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OPINION: Democrats Discuss — Bye-bye Betsy

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Megan Gale is a sophomore studying special education. She is a member of the Ohio University College Democrats. The following article reflects the opinions and views of the author and does not represent the thoughts of the Ohio University College Democrats.

This is a submitted column. Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political.

President Donald Trump’s recent defeat is the single best thing to happen to public education in the past four years. 

President-Elect Joe Biden will nominate a new secretary of education. Betsy DeVos, the current secretary of education, does not have a degree in education. She has no experience teaching, and she — and her children — never attended a public school. Furthermore, she is a “school of choice” advocate. 

How can someone with no experience in education be the secretary of education? DeVos is wildly underqualified for the job and she barely got approved by the U.S. Senate. The vote was a 50-50 split — Vice President Mike Pence voted “yes” to break the tie.

While also being underqualified for the job, DeVos supports charter schools, which are a direct threat to public education. 

Charter schools are free public schools, independent from local school districts, and they regulate themselves with a charter. The charter creates regulations for all the schools involved, meaning that the schools in the charter are exempt from state regulations, but they still get state funding on a per-student basis. 

DeVos is also a relentless advocate for voucher programs. A voucher program is a state-funded tuition program for students in impoverished areas to attend private schools. These vouchers take funding away from public schools, leaving more students stranded in underperforming schools. 

These schools are underperforming because voucher programs are defunding public education. The vouchers create an impossible cycle to escape — public schools that need more funding are having money taken away from them to send children to private schools. 

As secretary of education, funding public education and advocating for public schools should be the top priority. DeVos, however, has been actively fighting for the opposite.

DeVos is also a threat to special education and people with disabilities. During her confirmation hearing, DeVos expressed confusion about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that ensures the right to a Free and Public Education (FAPE) to all students regardless of ability. When asked about it and its regulations, she said it was best to leave those decisions up to the states. 

IDEA is a federal law. It is not up to the states’ discretion.

In 2019, DeVos proposed to defund the Special Olympics program. While the program is a private organization, they still receive federal funding. The Special Olympics program works with schools to offer support and after school activities for those with disabilities. They also fund the Special Olympics games. DeVos’s proposal proved to educators across the world that she is not a friend of public education, public educators or people with disabilities.

The world of education can finally take a deep breath and be confident that President-Elect Biden will choose a qualified appointee. Educators across America can finally rejoice that Devos’s reign over the education world is over. 

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