Mar. 24, 2017

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Kalamazoo, MI

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Est. 1877

Education

Betsy DeVos’s (Potential) Impact on K

President Trump with Betsy DeVos, who was sworn in as Education Secretary on Tuesday, February 7th (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) President Trump with Betsy DeVos, who was sworn in as Education Secretary on Tuesday, February 7th (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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In a climactic moment in politics that was almost as historic as it was tragic, Vice President of the United States and James Bond villain Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary this past Tuesday. DeVos’s nomination by hamster-handed president Donald Trump back in November, though one of many controversial choices made by the then-president-elect, was perhaps the single most contested nomination of all, sparking widespread protest across the country, particularly by the nation’s public school teachers.

Critics have noted that DeVos lacks experience to be Education Secretary; she has never held a professional position as an educator in her life, nor has she, or any of her four grown children, ever attended, taught in, or run an American public school. In addition, some worry about DeVos’s ability to maintain separate church-state relations; in an interview with a Christian philanthropic group The Gathering, she explicitly stated that her mission through education is to “advance God’s kingdom.” DeVos has also donated to organizations that promote dominion theology.

As always, I try to devote my more politically charged opinions to how current happenings at the federal level may impact us here in Kalamazoo, more specifically, here at K College. And, granted, DeVos seems to have her focus set primarily on K-12 grade levels, and not so much on higher ed (despite the rising rate of college tuition and student loan debt indicating that reform is sorely needed). What’s more, as a private college, K is probably among those academic institutions across the country least vulnerable to DeVos’s acts as Education Secretary. But that, by no means, guarantees us immunity from the impacts that will be felt by other American colleges and universities.

For one thing, DeVos has said in hearings it would be “premature” to confirm she will uphold department guidelines requesting colleges take an “active role” against sexual assault. These guidelines were put in place during the Obama administration in an effort to fight rampant sexual assault on college campuses across the country, and to overturn what few regulations that exist could potentially jeopardize what little progress has been made since.

What’s more is that DeVos, despite her apparent disinterest in higher education, will have to have some kind of role in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which has a major impact on the country’s student loan program, which impacts millions of Americans. Though DeVos has criticized the rising cost of college, she has called debt-elimination proposals “in stark contrast” to approaches that address the “core” issues of higher education. Even so, DeVos’s opinions on such matters should probably be taken with a grain of salt, considering she hilariously told Al Franken, a Democratic senator from the state of Minnesota, that student loan debt had gone up 980% in the last eight years. Franken’s response—an incredibly exasperated, “that’s just not so”—is absolutely right; the correct figure is 118%.

It would seem that, if we can find anything good in DeVos’s young tenure as Education Secretary so far, it might just be learning how to laugh through the pain.

2 Comments on Betsy DeVos’s (Potential) Impact on K

  1. The Silent Majority // February 15, 2017 at 1:09 PM // Reply

    Your work and this paper would be taken much more seriously if you didn’t begin your article with insults that do not further your argument. They’re rude and not constructive and honestly gives the reader a bad taste in their mouth as they continue the article. When you actually choose to report facts and make arguments and draw conclusions from said facts, your article is an interesting read, but your childish insults are not helping this article at all.

  2. SM, I disagree. These seem to be fairly accurate assessments of the character of these leaders–and besides, this choice of secretary is itself an insult to us all. It is only fair that we call them out on it.
    I was not previously aware of the now-Secretary-of-Education’s ties to church lobbyists–this is as enlightening as it is frightening. It’s a disgrace that such a person has been put in charge of our public education system. It makes about as much sense as hiring a psychiatrist to conduct brain surgery.

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