Policy over education

Matt Firpo

Opinion Editor

In its vote this Monday, the current leadership of Congress has stated its position on education in confirming Betsy DeVos as secretary of the Department of Education. The nation’s current leadership, rather than appoint an individual with experience as a school administrator or as a teacher, chose to usher in a lobbyist who is an educational bureaucrat.

As a future educator, I find it quite absurd that an individual with no experience in education would be allowed to head the department that governs and enforces policies that affect my workplace.

I have had to spend four years rigorously working to become an effective educator as well as a successful academic in my field specialization. She’s spent more than 30 years pushing for school choice, state rights in education and funding the Michigan Republican Party.

But school choice helps students be able to have access to the best schools, right? Sadly, this isn’t true.

According to a report by the Detroit Free Press from 2014, a yearlong investigation of Detroit charter schools, which DeVos worked toward allowing, showed that charters in the state had little to no fiscal accountability, no need for qualifications when applying to the state, and mixed results that showed little to no improvement in the academic performance in comparison to public schools.

During her confirmation hearing, she did not commit to enforcing equal opportunity for students with disabilities, saying states should decide on provisions based on each state’s needs.

In Alabama, it is already difficult enough to obtain proper resources for students with disabilities. I’ve heard countless stories where schools have failed to provide adequate accommodations for students, and gave them only when a parent threatened to take the school to court or to other authorities.

The nation’s public school system is far from perfect, which I’ve experienced firsthand observing in classrooms around Troy. But I believe that despite its flaws, this system can properly prepare children for academic readiness and to be responsible citizens.

Rather than sell out to for-profit charter schools and continue to degrade a broken system, Congress should consider supporting a national education system that actively monitors and supports an equal and appropriate education for all students, not just the ones that can afford to attend a “better school.”

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