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DeVos: Wrong choice to lead our nation’s schools

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Stephen Vukovits

Stephen Vukovits

Megaphone Staff

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This month has included perhaps the most controversial presidential cabinet picks in our country’s history. However, none were more divided than President Trump’s education secretary, Mrs. Betsy DeVos.

DeVos’s hearing led to a 50-50 tie in Congress, broken by Vice President (and former Indiana Gov.) Mike Pence, marking the first time in the nation’s history that a vote by the vice president was needed to confirm a cabinet nomination.

Though she may have won the vote, DeVos is not a good choice for this government position.

Concerns about DeVos include her lack of experience, unfamiliarity with key issues and education related debates, a call for firearms in schools to defend against grizzly bears — yes, we’re serious — and potential conflicts of interest.

Yet most worrisome is her disregard for public schooling systems.

We realize that we attend a fabulous, even nationally award winning,  private institution. This is not the case for nearly 50.4 million students, according to the Department of Education. For either financial, religious or personal reasons, about 85 percent of American children continue to rely on public education.

The idea presented by DeVos to apply federal funding toward private religious schools instead of public education may seem like a good idea. If this was truly so, charter schools such as the Massachusetts Charter Association would not speak up against this practice.

In her past, DeVos has lobbied that federal money be used to pay for private school tuition, according to The New York Times. The primary opposition for this was stated by Thomas Jefferson in the Constitution when he called for a separation of church and state. Tax dollars should not go to support religious based education, and we recognize that this school would and does benefit from such a practice, but we still maintain our opinion that this should not be the case.

Aside from this aspect, most private schools do not comply with Individual Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or English Language Learners (ELL). Under resourced public schools already struggle to accommodate the extra teachers needed to comply with these rules. By taking jet another chunk of schools’ federal money, students who depend on these programs and services would find themselves greatly disadvantaged.

Yet DeVos has suggested that she would decrease funding for more than the IDEA or ELL. She also disagrees with the National School Lunch Act, a program that has provided free or discounted school lunches for students since President Harry Truman established it in 1946.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 31 million students use the plan daily. Of these children, many are dependent upon it for their only meal of the day, according to NPR. In many instances, this food is the only fuel these students have to complete a productive school day.

It is programs such as these that allow all children to experience equal educational opportunities. In such a quickly developing world, education is the single most essential factor for a child’s future success. An education secretary should recognize its importance and work to enhance every person’s educational growth.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Betsy DeVos has proven that she will not.

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