The New York Times has posted a recent article entitled, “Betsy DeVos is Publicly Polite, but a Political Fighter” on nytimes.com detailing the complicated role that the new Secretary of Education fills within the Trump administration. While many believe her to be complacent and passive, the author warns that looking at her career up until this point will paint a very different picture. She may seem to be a small member of the cabinet, but DeVos is a political force to be reckoned with.
DeVos has been an outspoken advocate for change in the field of education for much of her career. Her role as a Republican National Councilwoman gave her the platform that she needed to discuss this pressing issue. She has been part of various boards that advocate for increased funding of charter schools such as the Alliance for School Choice, The Foundation for Excellence in Education, and the Acton Institute. In fact, in response to her efforts, her home state of Michigan has a higher concentration of charter schools than that many other states.
The reason DeVos is such an advocate for charter schools is that she believes that the public-school system lacks the skills necessary to provide a quality education. As with anything else, the field of education can be viewed in business terms. The public-school system has a monopoly on public funds and they do not feel a need to change their practices. DeVos explains that teachers are not showing the leadership skills necessary to train students to move into the next phases of their lives. Students require teachers that take a more active, hands-on approach to their learning. By filtering money into charter schools, public schools would feel a challenge to do better for their students. Her plan sounds very comprehensive, but some of her detractors point out that it could only widen the disparity of educational resources between the upper and lower class as well as starve the public-school system. DeVos believes something needs to be done to overhaul the systems themselves and this drastic measure could be the answer.
Even though DeVos may seem to be standing on the sidelines of national politics, she has taken an active role in the future planning of America’s educational system. Her opinions come from a deep-seated need to fix a system that she believes is broken. Throughout her career, anyone that has been paying attention to her efforts can see the work of a woman that is completely committed to the future of education.
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