The Devos Irony

The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as our nation’s Secretary of Education 6 years ago unleashed a firestorm of criticism.  Many called her “unqualifed,” and was even talk about eliminating the position!  But let’s think about three things – one in our nation’s history, one that happened about 14 years ago, and one that happened 6 years ago.

First, recall the creation of the United States Department of Education.  It’s only existed for 40 years.  Way back when, in 1979, the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare was changed, and became two independent departments – the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and the United States Department of Education.  And when you divide a department, the departments take on a life of their own, growing in size and scope.  The move was intended to put a focus on education, since it was already noted that our nation’s performance among rankings elsewhere in the world was slipping.  40+ years later, it continues to slip.  Therefore, does the department need to be re-evaluated?  Perhaps.

Second, recall that Arne Duncan was named Secretary of Education in the Obama administration.  Yes, he was the Superintendent of Chicago’s public schools.  But that’s an administrative position.  He was a leader in educational change.  But, did he have an education degree?  No.  Did he teach in the classroom?  No.  Did he have principal certifications?  No.  If you did a search on Arne Duncan at that time, the title under his name wasn’t “Former Secretary of Education,” it was “American Basketball Player.”

Sheds a new light on the academics vs. activities debate in your school, doesn’t it?

Third.  No experience in teaching or school leadership at the highest level of government?  Isn’t that preposterous?  Look at your local public school board of directors.  They all have advanced degrees in education, right?  Do the research.  How many of your local public school board members have a teaching background, or have had experience in the education vertical?  If you have a nine-person board, do at least five of them have Masters degrees in education?  If not, and you have that degree, how does it make you feel when those people walk down the aisle wearing the cap and hood of the Master of Education degree at your local school district’s graduation?  And why, if you indeed have that degree, aren’t you running for school board?  These folks are considering the possibilities: