By Raymond Loughlin
On Tuesday, February 7th, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education in a 51-50 vote. The senate was tied, so Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a vote. Since her confirmation hearing last month, there was a public outcry to try and get Senators to vote no to her nomination.
Many people are upset at the fact that DeVos has no experience with higher education, nor has she or any of her children been in a public school. What seems to have gotten her the nomination, as Vermont senator Bernie Sanders pointed out in her confirmation hearing, is the amount of money she has donated to President Trump’s campaign and the campaigns of many Republican senators.
Others are up in arms about her response to a question about guns in school, in which DeVos said, “I believe it should be left up to the state to decide… although I’ll refer back to the school in Wyoming, where there’s probably a gun in the school to protect against potential Grizzlies.” Some students are concerned with DeVos, because they are afraid she will demolish and defund an unstable and underfunded public education system. Others are concerned about how she will treat special education students.
Kyle Gotham, an RA in Crimson and a special education major, is concerned with the DeVos confirmation. Gotham has one more semester at BSU until he enters the workforce, so he feels he will be directly affected by any change she makes. He has written about the treatment of special needs students by private schools and is afraid of what DaVos will do to restrict their rights.
Two students on campus who are special education majors voted for President Trump in the general election, and when asked about trumps nomination, they had this to say: “We don’t support his decision for Betsy DeVos…she’s absolutely horrible.”
Many have taken their anger and frustration with the confirmation to social media, where Betsy DeVos has been publicly criticized. Meg Keefe, who is an education major at BSU, has much to say about DeVos:
“My personal qualm with Betsy DeVos lies in her inexperience and lack of knowledge surrounding public education and education policy. During her hearing, Secretary DeVos was unable to answer many basic questions surrounding important topics in public education today. She struggled to distinguish between proficiency and growth, and avoided supporting equal accountability for all public schools.” Said Keefe. She added, “DeVos is shaky in her knowledge of huge fixtures in education policy such as Title XI and Obama’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter on it, and IDEA. She repeatedly said that compliance with IDEA should be “left up to the states”–clearly signaling that she had no idea that IDEA is a federal law. She is grossly incompetent–and now she is at the forefront of education.”
For some here at BSU, the nomination is a grim reality which will be dealt with immediately as they enter the field of education. For others, they may never have to worry about working in education with Betsy DeVos as the secretary as long as President Trump doesn’t win a second term.