Published on February 14th, 2017 | by Kyle Shatto0
Devos like Trump, A Close Call
President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has been confirmed by a controversial Senate vote 50-50 that ended in a tie breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence. DeVos is a Michigan billionaire with strong conservative values. DeVos is a controversial pick based on her strong support of the privatizing of schools.
The 59 year-old philanthropist is taking over a department with 4,400 employees and a $68 million budget. This leads to the question of how much will change for America’s 50 million public school students and 20 million public college students.
“The confirmation of DeVos is a scary thing to think about because she has no experience with the public school system,” senior elementary education major Amanda Zahlman said. “Hopefully her learning curve will hopefully be small with a strong department to support her.”
The truth is that there is limited power with the federal government’s role in education policy. One example is that less than 10 percent of funding for K-12 schools comes from the federal government.
There are still a lot of questions involving her perspective on higher education. DeVos has said she is unsure if she will uphold department guidance that asks colleges to take an active role against sexual assault. She also took a strong stance against “free tuition” for schools, stating in her confirmation hearings, there is nothing in life that is truly free.
FSC Assistant Professor of Education Lori Rakes said this is an exciting time in the higher education field.
“There are going to be a lot of changes either for better or worse and we as a country need to adapt to them and work together,” Rakes said.
DeVos backed school reforms in Michigan, which favored for profit charter schools operators. DeVos has not been quiet about her backing of making schools for profit. Her charity, The American Federation of Children, favors both waivers and scholarships, which allow companies to offset tax liability by funding students to attend private schools. In the state of Florida, 70 percent of those scholarships have gone to religious-affiliated schools like Florida Southern College.