Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has been followed by controversy since his announcement. Between her inability to answer simple questions about laws protecting students with disabilities, claiming grizzly bears are a threat to school children, having a history of promoting charter schools over public school systems, and her lack of knowledge in other areas related to the position, it was no surprise that she would be all over the news. After a much longer than expected confirmation hearing by a Senate Committee, DeVos’ nomination was passed and moved along to be voted on by the whole Senate. The vote was to take place on February 6 but the Democratic Party of the Senate extended the period prior to the vote for twenty-four hours to protest her confirmation. After a 50-50 tie, a historical tie-breaking vote was cast by Vice President Mike Pence. Thus, Betsy DeVos is now the United States Secretary of Education.
Here’s what 8 college students have to say about Betsy DeVos being confirmed and what it means for the future of education.
1. Denise R., freshman at Rutgers University-Newark:
"She is very inexperienced, unqualified, and seemed to have money as a motivation when she tried pursuing the position. When combining all of those reasons I feel DeVos will not work for the benefit of the people but instead will make decisions based on what she personally believes is best."
2. Giancarlo P., freshman at Scranton University:
"Betsy DeVos is a billionaire with no experience in public education and has no qualifications other than donating to Republican campaigns and Political Action campaigns against public education. During her hearings she expressed ignorance to even the most basic of education policy, lacking the ability to take a position on the debate of measuring proficiency and growth. She also believes that public school teachers are overpaid which can cause problems for unions. Her confirmation is not a positive step for the Department of Education."
3. Natalie D., Ramapo, freshman at the College of New Jersey:
"I feel that Betsy DeVos is grossly under qualified for this position. As a person who has no experience as a teacher or in public education, I can't imagine she knows the first thing about how to be a successful education secretary. I also feel like she can't relate to the general public who attends or has attended public schools. I see public schools be negatively affected if she is confirmed. I'm afraid we'll see many closures since she wants to use public education funds to pay for charter schools. I think we'll see the quality of public education go down as a whole, which affects how successful our future students will be. It's hard to reach the stars when you weren't afforded the education you deserve."
4. Layne C., freshman at Essex County College
"During her confirmation hearings Mrs. DeVos was unable to answer basic questions regarding policies, avoided directly answering questions, and made comments regarding the education system that sent up red flags about her ability to run the Department of Education. DeVos’ history with public school systems is not a decent one which scares many people since public schools are the only way people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to be educated. Now that she’s officially confirmed I hope she will take the time to learn about her position and listen to what the people need instead of going based off of her own unorthodox experiences. Although based on her track record the future of education is less bright than it once was."
5. Cianna B., sophomore at William Paterson University:
"As I followed the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Education secretary, I got more and more disgusted. Once day I hope to eventually become a teacher. This woman is so inexperienced, it makes me uncomfortable to even get a teaching degree. I'm worried about my loans, where I will work, what my kids (both biological eventually and my students back at home) will have to deal with, and those who will be neglected by the education system because of the charter school movement. I even left a message for Cory Booker, but I guess it wasn't enough. The fact that she hasn't pulled out a loan, had kids in public school or anything like that makes her seem like an aristocrat we learn about in my history classes. They come to power and wonder what the peasants are complaining about, but this is because they've never encountered it. I do not like the Trump administration in general, but I'm praying for the education for the people who are the future (us and those to come). I can go on forever about it, but I truly am disgusted."
6. Esder C., freshman at Rutgers University-Newark:
"As a student with poor financial background, I feel uncomfortable and almost threatened that a billionaire like Betsy DeVos is now officially confirmed as Education Secretary. She has never taken out a student loan or received federal aid to afford higher education. Her children have never faced or experienced such a process either. She has never had personal experience to understand the population that's affected by the failing education system: low income students. However, one must remember that financially struggling students are not the only subjects to face the mountain of student loans or even the possibility of dropping out of college. Undocumented students -- those without legal status -- face the worst situations and circumstances trying to attend and afford a higher education. However, again, DeVos is blind to such communities, who need her help, due to her inexperience with such groups. I cannot trust such a privileged woman to understand and target the troubling problems especially faced by students of color facing both financial and legal circumstances that bare them from achieving higher education."
7. Sean L., sophomore at University of Virginia-Wise:
"The appointment of DeVos is extremely detrimental to the future of education. She has no idea how to act in such a position, and American education will suffer because of this. Already, would-be teachers are being deterred from their career because of fear and lack of wanting to work with DeVos."
8. *Prentiss G., senior at Montclair State University
"DeVos is significantly underqualified to be Secretary of Education. Her position requires her to look out for the public school system yet her record shows she favors charter schools. She doesn't adequately understand the rights and needs of special needs students and when asked about the laws protecting them she refused to openly state she would follow them. She also has no experience taking out loans and her billionaire status makes her unable to relate to and understand the experiences and needs of a vast amount of students who will need to take out loans to get an education. Basically, she doesn't have any reason to be the Secretary of Education."
Although it seems college students are not in agreement with the outcome of the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, they do agree on why they dislike her as Secretary of Education. Only time will tell how the future of education will unfold with DeVos at the helm, but that does not mean inequitable changes will be made without questioning or protest on our part.
*Names that have been marked have been changed to protect the identity of the person who gave the quote.
Lead Image Credit: FOX