Guest column by Tyler Anderson
Growing up in the public school system, I lived through the No Child Left Behind Act and survived. Some students weren’t so lucky, coming out of the ordeal unprepared for adulthood. The system was, and is, flawed, but it’s also evolving as we learn what does and does not benefit students.
However, I can confidently say our education system is headed in the completely wrong direction with the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, a champion of for-profit colleges and K-12 charter schools, as the Secretary of Education.
I think it’s important to realize Betsy DeVos herself won’t be issuing rules and regulations from a golden throne. And only about 10 percent of K-12 school budgets come from federal funding. But that doesn’t mean her confirmation isn’t threatening the public education system in an unprecedented way.
This administration has gone to great lengths in just a few short weeks to spread lies, hinder information and cause a big old stink anytime our president doesn’t get his way. And with the full support of Donald Trump and the like behind her, I remain skeptical of her ability to regulate education at any level, and for good reason.
At the college level, DeVos is indebted to for-profit colleges through her husband who has held financial ties to the industry. DeVos is on the fence about regulations that curb for-profit fraud, regulations that have saved countless students from crippling debt they were coerced into by “alternative facts” such as false graduation rates or career placement statistics. And at a net worth of roughly $5 billion, it’s hard to imagine she would do anything to hurt her ties to the industry.
When approached about upholding regulations that hold colleges responsible for providing awareness about sexual assault, her response was a definitive “meh.” This is a major red flag for me and quite a few of my fellow students as well. I cannot support anyone who doesn’t realize, or care, that rape is real and is happening all around us.
Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed free, or at the very least affordable, public colleges for all citizens through the allocation of tax dollars from other bloated governmental departments. DeVos has laughed this off, making it clear that “free” isn’t in her vocabulary. But I believe I accurately echo the cries of just about every college student when I say I’d like to not be in debt the rest of my life for taking part in an education system that we’ve been told we couldn’t be successful without.
There’s been little evidence provided that Betsy DeVos has any faith in the public education system. In fact, there’s quite a bit to the contrary: under her oversight, corporate America will have much more say in what we learn and do as this sector often funds charter and for-profit schools.
It’s sad that the cries of educators and students across the country, and from varied social, political and financial backgrounds, fell on deaf ears. But the fight for education has not ended with this single confirmation. We should continue to make our voices heard in any way possible to make it clear we value integrity, honesty and the right to affordable, quality education.
Better listen up, Betsy DeVos, because we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.