On February 7, 2017, Betsy De Vos was sworn in as the 11th Secretary of Education. At the culmination of her confirmation Vice President Mike Pence had to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. The leftist media and Senators went nuts. These losers lost again.
The winners are the kids who will have a chance to be free from failing government schools dominated by unions and stodgy bureaucrats of the status quo.
Betsy De Vos advocates choice through competition. Although she is most noted for work with charter schools, she is open to any form of educational choice be it charter schools, home schools, private schools or parochial schools – any alternative to failing government schools. Faced with competition, educators should get up each day feeling the pressure to improve their product.
For half a century education unions and bureaucrats called for more money to fix the failing school problem. Over that half a century the US tripled the spending per pupil. Result? The increased spending produced regression – not progression.
Example: Our nation’s capitol spent over $26,500 per student in the 2012-2013 school year. In Washington, DC, in 2015, however, only 19% of eighth-graders were grade-level proficient in reading. The same percentage held for grade-level math proficiency.
Throughout De Vos’s confirmation hearing the leftist press and slow-rolling Senate Democrats treat her worse than unfairly. They treated her with a vile nastiness not seen since the “Borking” of Robert Bork and the high-tech lynching of Clarence Thomas.
De Vos was charged with being wealthy. So? Considering the wealth held by her Senate and media critics, that is like the pot calling the kettle black. She is, after all, a philanthropist and most benefactors are wealthy.
De Vos is also a Christian. Once during an interview she mentioned advancing the Kingdom of God. For the criticism she received one would think she confessed to be a devil worshipper – who, in today’s pop culture, garners no objection. Advancing the Kingdom of God? Well, duh! If the media had a smidgeon of understanding as to what Christians believe and the vernacular in which they speak they might be a little more tolerant.
Ludicrously, De Vos has been accused of not caring about punishing sexual assault. What a dumb accusation! In context, she and her husband gave money to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. This organization, among other things, protects free speech. It also advocates for the rights of individuals accused of sexual assault -- especially coming to the defense of those wrongly accused.
Other complaints against De Vos: she doesn’t have a degree in education, she has no teaching experience, she didn’t attend public school and her kids did not attend public school. Funny. President Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan did not meet these criteria. Why the objections now?
The meat of the De Vos opposition centers on the accusation that Detroit’s charter schools have been a disaster. Well? They may not be world class, but they are far better than the government schools with which they compete. Detroit’s government schools have failed generations of students. Only half of Detroit’s adults are functionally literate.
Finally, De Vos is charged with abiding to strict standards for government schools that she does not likewise hold for charter schools. That is simply not true. She advocates shutting down any non-performing school. It just so happens that government schools are failing at a higher rate than charter schools in Detroit. Furthermore, she grades charter schools on a scale of A to F so that parents can make an informed choice for their kids.
Bottom line: It’s all about competition. Services improve when subjected to market competition. When people are free to choose then the pressure created by competition results in new and better services. The education establishment is threatened by choice. Choice means a potential loss of power.
Betsy De Vos maintains that if you like your government school, you can keep your government school. If you don’t like it, then having a choice becomes a means of escape for parents to improve their kids’ education. The not-so-well-to-do families have a friend in Betsy De Vos. For this the unions and bureaucrats will never forgive her.