Betsy DeVos, someone who knows as much about education as a pancake, is the US Secretary for Education. So far, she’s claimed that all schools need guns because of potential grizzly attacks, had her social media peon misspell the name of a famous advocate of education – and then misspell the apology – and she can’t seem to find her pencils.
Things, as they say, are not going well.
New journalistic portal Axios managed to get some time with the longtime GOP donor and pencil botherer this week, and they asked her what she would have said differently during her final confirmation hearing. There are some wonderful bits of madness sprinkled throughout, along with some genuinely frightening parts.
“I expect there will be more public charter schools. I expect there will be more private schools. I expect there will be more virtual schools,” DeVos mused aloud, thinking about the future of American education. Then she added: “I expect there will be more schools of any kind that haven't even been invented yet.”
What in the name of W.E.B. Du Bois does this mean? Where else can you go other than “virtual” for the future? Underwater schools? Sky schools? Space schools? Hedgehog schools? (Actually, these all sound pretty awesome.)
This is an incredibly vague answer. DeVos’ general policy towards education is that there should be more “choice” at the state and district level for curriculums which, given her family’s strong pro-creationism stance, worries quite a lot of people. Other than that, the future of American schools under her leadership is anyone’s guess, really.
It’s worth pointing out that she is quite keen to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan law signed by President Obama that superseded the flawed 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.
The purpose of ESSA was to actually give a lot of control over educational policy back to local authorities while still making sure poorly performing students and schools are focused on for improvement. At the very least, it’s a good sign she wants to implement it, but it’s unclear exactly how she would go about that. “It’s too early to have numerical goals,” she added.
Her focus, though, seems to be weakening the federal government’s power of educational policy as much as possible – and this is what really concerns educators across the US.