Education is one of those subjects that is near and dear to my heart. To me the idea of a free public education is imperative to the development and maintenance of a productive society. It is through education that we ensure that people remain free. A full education creates a person who can think for themselves. They can look at all of the evidence available to them and synthesize a position. When you are educated, you learn to question. In a society such as ours it is those questions that push us forward and continue to help us grow.
My deep love of the idea of education found me sitting in a rather perplexed state as I watched the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos. The Tangerine essentially took one of the major Repugnant donors (AKA exceptionally wealthy white woman) and decided that he would let her play school on the taxpayers dime. To me this is like tapping a fast food employee to be Surgeon General. Translation: BAD IDEA, someone is going to get hurt. While DeVos has no formal background in education, she does have some experience. Unfortunately the students in Detroit are the ones who are paying for her experience.
Education has been taking a lot of lumps and I am not sure, but this one could be the fatal blow to the head. With DeVos we have a person who doesn’t believe in public education. She wants charter schools, religious schools, and private schools all under the claim of promoting choice. That in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. There are many good schools in this country that fall into one of those three classifications. The problem arises when you start taking money from the public schools to give to those other school types and DeVos believes in doing just that. She believes in vouchers.
For years Repugnants have been saying, well if we give people choice it will force the schools to perform better and will therefore attract students. Education is not a place where you can expect improvement when you cut budgets. School districts don’t have a secret stash of money hidden away to pull out and magically make themselves “better.” They generally have extremely tight budgets and they rarely misspend what little money they have. Most of them are tasked with finding ways to make a mac n’ cheese budget look like a filet mignon dinner.
Due to those mac n’ cheese budgets, teachers spend an unbelievable amount of their own money in classrooms. They do this because most teachers go into education with the goal of making the lives of children better. Each day they get up and head into work despite the ever increasing odds and they do their absolute best for their students. They fret and worry about every choice they make and they look for better ways every day. They continue to train and take professional development classes for the rest of their career. All with the goal of improving education for their kids.
The confirmation of DeVos seems to be one of those foregone conclusions. Other than being wholly unqualified for the position (much like the Tangerine-Elect), there doesn’t appear to be any skeletons waiting to jump out and knock her out of the running. She will become the head of Education and she will work to push through vouchers and all that entails. Teachers will be left to do what they can when school budgets are cut to cover the money shelled out in vouchers. They will try to fill the gap even when it takes money out of their home. They will do what they can, but will have been set up to fail.