To be clear, we are not talking about Betsy DeVos’ first 100 days in office, but rather what she has or has not done since being confirmed as the Education Secretary in the Trump Administration. Betsy DeVos has been one of the most controversial picks for a secretary role due to her lack of experience with the educational system in America. Her confirmation hearing has gone viral on social media when questioned by senators such as Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Al Franken. In case you missed it, you should see Senator Al Franken’s section of her confirmation hearing.
DeVos’ inability to explain how she really was qualified for the position did make many Democrats and even Republican uneasy, but by a vote from the Vice-President Mike Pence she made it through. So, what has she been up to since ascending to the role of Education Secretary?
Day 1 on the job is done, but we’re only getting started. Now where do I find the pencils? :) pic.twitter.com/0vRKF1opE9— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos) February 9, 2017
Without missing a beat, her tweet in February ignited a firestorm of pushback and memes all surrounding her comment about looking for pencils. Many internet users cited that her inability to find a pencil was informative about how unqualified she was to do the job she had been hired for. However, after surviving many Twitter attacks and typos on social media, DeVos has remained committed to serving America’s children.
Betsy DeVos came under fire for signing off on the rules affecting transgendered students’ use of public washrooms at school. While being reported as being a supporter of the LGBTQ community and of course for children everywhere in America, it didn’t stop her detractors from citing her conservative values as being detrimental to the educational system. Despite all this, President Donald Trump has remained steadfast in his support of DeVos and has even facilitated one of the biggest promises she made as a nominee for Education Secretary – greater access for school choice programs and initiatives.
“Our nation’s commitment is to provide a quality education to every child to serve the greater public, common good. Accordingly, we must shift the paradigm to think about education funding as investments made in individual children, not in institutions or buildings.”
Rejecting the notion that she was simply trying to give money to private Christian schools, Betsy DeVos has been adamant that more families need access to schools and other learning programs through things like vouchers. While on the face of it initiatives such as these might sound great, the jury is still out on what the overall impact will be on America’s educational system. A recent study on the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program indicates that those students who opted for the scholarship ended up having lower math grades than those that didn’t. This does not bode well for greater acceptance of school choice since there are many who have concerns about the cost and the quality of the education that the nation’s children will be receiving.
However, for all of this, DeVos’ biggest blemish is her position and actions related to student debt. Many of her critics cite the overwhelming about-face on Obama-era protections that were implemented to curtail the predatory practices of lending agencies financing student education. As explained in her confirmation hearing when speaking to Senator Elizabeth Warren, DeVos has no experience with student debt. She has never had to take a loan for herself or her kids to pay for education.
This became painfully clear when guarantee agencies were instructed by the Department of Education that they could go after students who were behind on loan payments. While President Obama was in power, it had been determined that these practices were unfair and even illegal because of the undue hardship it places on students. The story came to light about a potential conflict of interest when news broke that Taylor Hansen, a former lobbyist for for-profit colleges, was one of Betsy DeVos’ advisors.
It appears that during President Trump’s first 100 days, it has not been rosy for Betsy DeVos. The list goes on about issues that have arisen due to her role as Education Secretary. DeVos has been the target of several small protests; she has publicly stated that she believes there is no longer a place for the common core in education, and she does not seem to be garnering the support that she needs from many of the rural communities across America. But these are early days still, both in the Trump Administration and in her role as Education Secretary. Who knows? Betsy DeVos may be just what America needs to be great again.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]