DeVos unfit to be education secretary

Photo by Daniel Bair. Though advocating for an increase of women in politics was a staple of the Central Florida Women’s Rally at Lake Eola Park, participants showed disdain for President Donald Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. Disability advocates spoke out against her for her intent to repeal the civil rights portion of the Individuals with Disability Education Act of 2004.

Seemingly overnight, the current nominee for Secretary of Education became infamous.

During her hearing, Betsey DeVos cited defense against grizzlies as a reason that guns should be allowed in schools. She didn’t know the answers to basic questions about educational policy and skirted around the question of whether or not her family had donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican senators.

In a word, it was an atrocious display.

The Democrats who asked questions during the hearing, including Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Al Franken of Minnesota, were shocked and appalled at DeVos’ answers. So was the rest of the country.

Following the hearing, there was a national outcry. DeVos was not only criticized by teachers unions but by average American citizens who had watched the hearing.

Citizens like me.

I felt ill watching this woman, whose nomination was obviously tied to the vast amounts of money her family had donated to the Republican party, try to answer the most basic of questions and fail. She smiled the whole time, as if not knowing anything about the position that she would be nominated for was comical.

DeVos believes in school choice, which is where vouchers are provided so parents have the choice to send their children to charter schools instead of public ones.

Overall, I think that this idea is a disaster. Instead of focusing on sending children away from public schools, wouldn’t it instead be better to just focus on making those schools better? Why can’t we allocate more funding towards more school resources, higher teacher’s salaries, arts funding, and support services?

On Wednesday, two brave Republican senators publicly stood up and declared that they will vote no on the confirmation of DeVos. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska both spoke out and said that they could not in good conscience confirm DeVos’ nomination.

In the darkest of times, it is those who have the courage to step up and raise their voices that create real change. By breaking from their own party, they show the current political climate is not an issue of Republican versus Democrat. Instead it is an issue of moral versus immoral, of competence versus incompetence, of protecting the best interests of their constituents versus ignoring them.

If DeVos gets nominated, it will be a stain on our country’s education system. However, I will never forget those who spoke out against her nomination and moving forward we must continue to make our voices heard.

Jillian James is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Focus. Each week she will be posting her column on her insight to political affairs. You can email her at JillianRJames@knights.ucf.edu.