1. Betsy DeVos has never worked in a public school, has never attended a public school, and has never sent her kids to a public school according to an excellent article by Newsweek entitled Betsy DeVos is Coming for Your Public Schools. People have often used the analogy that just because you have rode in a plane doesn’t mean you know how to fly one, and just because you have sat in a classroom doesn’t mean you know how to facilitate one. The DeVos nomination takes this one step further since she has never even spent meaningful time in a public school classroom, or to continue the analogy, she has never even boarded a plane!
2. Betsy DeVos has no understanding of what its like to be a poor kid. Why is that important? Despite popular rhetoric, it is only the poor kids in the U.S. who are scoring low when compared to other similar countries. In fact, U.S. Schools with poverty rates below 20% are some of the best in the world. Unfortunately, teachers cannot solve poverty. Understanding the daily battle of being poor is helpful though when educating poor kids, which is a staggering 21% of all U.S. kids. Most public school teachers come from modest means and have a good idea of what it is like to have financial barriers. Meanwhile, Betsy Devos was born to billionaire parents and her husband Dick DeVos was also born to parents worth billions. Its safe to say she has no idea what middle class kids need to succeed, let alone what poor kids need.
3. Betsy DeVos is the brains and money behind her own special interest group called the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP). Betsy was the first Chairman of the GLEP which funds conservative political campaigns and creates propaganda that support her anti-public school positions. She has personally donated at least $330,000 to GLEP, and the entire DeVos clan has donated nearly 1.7 million since GELP’s inception in 2001!
4. Betsy DeVos is dishonest about her stance on the common Common Core. The Great Lakes Education Project, under he leadership on the 3 member board of directors, vigorously supported the common core in 2013. Betsy now says she is against common core and tries to distance herself from the organizations she acknowledges supported it. In fact, her website does not even list her involvement with GLEP, despite it being probably her most successful political venture.
5. Betsy DeVos’ number one goal is to get educational vouchers implemented so that students can take their money to for-profit charters and private schools. Vouchers would decimate public schools because savvy marketing campaigns would entice students to leave public schools leaving only students who have special needs, behavioral issues, or lack of support from home. Not only would that create a more challenging learning environment for public school kids, lower scores in these schools would allow voucher supports additional cannon fodder in their anti-public school campaigns. When it comes to vouchers, Michigan voters overwhelmingly defeated an initiative to implement them in 2000, and they also failed to elect Betsy’s husband Dick as Governor in 2006. Betsy doesn’t respect the will of Michigan voters, and has decided instead to buy the results she wants.
6. Betsy Devos’ supports under regulated for-profit charter schools that have wasted boat loads of tax dollars while further destabilizing the entire school system in Detroit. We might be able to overlook those issues if it weren’t for the fact that 80% of Michigan charter schools score below the public school average on state tests. All indicators tell us we should be reducing the number of for-profit charters not doubling down on a failed concept.
7. Betsy DeVos does not have the support of most teachers. Teachers are the ones who are in the trenches working diligently to help all children learn. Meanwhile, conservative politicians and special interests groups like GLEP, both often funded by Betsy DeVos, hurdle propaganda grenades into our classrooms. They fail to understand that teacher’s working environments and students learning environments are inherently linked. You cannot raise up students while simultaneously beating down teachers, though they have tried. While Betsy DeVos hasn’t helped improve education in Michigan, it has landed her a nice position of influence in Washington.