The Education System and Betsy DeVos


How do you feel about our education system? Labeled for reuse from Pixabay.

Teenagers are sometimes labeled as melodramatic, hyperbolic and even ungrateful–especially with regards to school. However, teenagers do have a sense of where the education system is lacking and where it’s not.

Someone that truly reflects the mishandling of education right now is Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

“DeVos has neither attended, worked in nor sent her children to public schools. She has no government experience and no experience running or managing a bureaucracy or large organization,” said Lisette Partelow from US News.

The unsettling fact that DeVos didn’t have much understanding of how the public school system works–even though 50.7 million students are in public schools–is not even the bulk of the problem.

It’s what she has been doing lately.

First of all, when DeVos was asked by Congress if schools should be permitted to discriminate against students of a certain sexual orientation or gender identity, DeVos could not give a straight answer.

Additionally, DeVos made claims that she couldn’t even back up with concrete evidence in front of Congress. She stated, “Students may be better served by being in larger classes, if by hiring fewer teachers, a district or state can better compensate those who have demonstrated high ability and outstanding results…There’s plenty of research that will undergird the fact that mandating a specific class size doesn’t yield results.”

“Here’s a simple truth known by anyone who has ever spent time teaching—class size matters and smaller is better. For starters, smaller class sizes allow teachers to better personalize instruction, something routinely cited as best practice. The ability to better personalize with smaller class size is a function of basic math,” stated Patrick Kelly from Education Post.

DeVos also wanted to cut funding for the Special Olympics. When asked about her budget cuts, she said, “We are not doing our children any favors when we borrow from their future in order to invest in systems and policies that are not yielding better results.”

People were understandably outraged.

“Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., called the proposed cut “appalling,” adding that she “can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget.” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairman of the Senate subcommittee over the education budget, said flatly that the “appropriations bill will not cut funding for the program.” At a Senate hearing Thursday, DeVos acknowledged she did not personally authorize the reduction. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., suggested that whoever approved the proposed cut should get “a special Olympic gold medal for insensitivity,” said John Bacon from USA Today.

“It’s hard to believe that someone that uneducated and unqualified for this job was awarded it based on merit. She can never give straight forward answers, even to simple questions. She comes unprepared with any relevant facts or statistics to hearings. The only answers she ever gives are boiler plate mission statements that have no relevance or deeper implications,” said senior Haley Patton.

It’s all fun in games poking fun at DeVos; however, when the realization hits that she’s really the Secretary of Education, it can actually be quite scary.

But, this isn’t really new. For a student to see someone so high up in education so detached from the inner workings of education is kind of normal–as hard as that is to say.

Patton also said, “I definitely feel like the education system is lacking in the US. There is a lack of funding and frankly a lack of willingness from politicians to listen to teachers about what will work in the schools.”

However, the government and politicians are not the only factors impacting children’s education. There’s also a huge disconnect from the challenges students face in and out of the classroom.

“The system is weak. It is lacking in support from parents/guardians. It takes a village to raise a child and when parents are not involved in the up-bring[ing] of their child, it weakens the system. I do a much better job as a teacher if I can involve the parents,” stated science teacher Maria Martinez.

With DeVos as the Secretary of Education, things feel like a joke. It makes the education system look unimportant and easy to brush under a rug or dismiss with one flick of the wrist. Schools are necessary, powerful and crucial to the modern world. Education is so important for the growth and developmental of human beings so they can contribute to society in a meaningful, impactful way. So the world can keep spinning and it doesn’t completely go up in flames (although, it may be a little late for that).

As those most directly involved in the education system, students and teachers need a louder voice in government.