Betsy DeVos comes to the world of education with no classroom time but plenty of heart. As a mother of four children, she has carefully studied educational challenges and failures in the state of Michigan and fought tirelessly to offer vouchers and other financial programs to allow parents of children in failing schools to find a better option.
Blurring the Lines
DeVos’ dedication to funding and vouchers for excellent educational opportunities has led her to focus on Christian schools such as Potter’s House in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Both Betsy and her husband Dick have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to and spent several hours volunteering for Potter’s House.
Unfortunately, this focus on Christian schooling programs is distressing to many in government due to the blurring of the line of separation of church and state. Educators are extremely concerned about poor or non-existent science standards in schools that consider the Bible to be an historical or scientific text.
Insulated or Inept?
Mrs. DeVos’ lack of any experience as a classroom teacher or public school administrator has led some to question her capabilities as the Secretary of Education of the United States. While it’s true that her work on behalf of Potter’s House has been helpful and quite generous, this school is a single example in a small, close-knit community. Learn more: http://www.betsydevos.com/
The challenges facing public schools across the state of Michigan are for more diverse than a school voucher or a donation can repair. The destruction of families and community in the city of Detroit, for example, has taken decades to complete. The loss of manufacturing jobs and “white flight” as well as high incarceration rates for men of color has done more damage to family and community structures in Detroit than school voucher programs can repair.
While the contribution of the DeVos family to Potter’s House is admirable, it must be noted that this is one school in one small city. It should also be pointed out that the expertise of the super wealthy in matters of policy is most unhelpful; privileged folks are well-insulated against the ugliness of the world.
Teachers As Targets
A sad result of the push for school choice and, more importantly, the push against teachers unions has led to a vilification of classroom teachers from the top of the government down. The appointment of a woman with no classroom or administrative experience indicates to many teachers in the public schools that their education, training and dedication are invalid.