Thursday, December 15, 2016

Challenges to DeVos' Nomination

Last week, the Dallas Morning News published an editorial under the headline of Senate Should Ask Some Tough Questions of Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVos.  Click here to read the editorial.  As I mentioned in a prior blog, there is a fairly widespread belief that there is no such thing as bad press.  With publications like the DMN tackling the issues relating to public education, there is greater visibility into some of the potential ramifications of decisions being made and possible outcomes of certain actions.

A quote from the editorial that caught my attentions is that “she has not been an advocate of public schools, which we believe are the connecting fabric of our society”.  The editorial goes on to note that neither she nor her children have attended public schools and points out that she has no direct educational experience.  Hers is simply a willingness to fund a privately-run charter school approach that has yielded results that fall short of what the majority of public schools accomplish in Michigan.

Like the DMN, I acknowledge the right of the president-elect to make nominees to his cabinet that he believes are the best fit.  However, I also acknowledge the right of all of us to have an impact on whether the Senate actually confirms her to serve as Education Secretary.  And that’s where we must voice our opinions.  Reach out to your U.S. Senator and express your concerns about this appointment.

Charter schools as they exist in many states today serve a key role in the education of many students.  Where this becomes a concern is when the charters are privately run by for-profit entities with little accountability for how dollars are spent or the performance of students in charter schools.  Charters and other school choice options can each fill a specific need but, like public education, school choice options receiving public funds should all be held to a consistent accountability standard. 

DeVos’ appointment, combined with the continued push for vouchers by the Lt. Governor, creates opportunities for public education advocates to come together to ensure that the focus is not on the “business of schools” but on the “business of students”.   This should not be an argument about special interests or personal agendas; this should be about how we best meet the needs of the more than 5.3 million Texas public education students and make education of these students a priority.

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