Betsy DeVos: A Brief History


Serving under the Trump administration as secretary of education, Betsy DeVos has done nothing short of weakening the public school sector and defrauding thousands of college students. She is a strong advocate for school choice, which aides in taking money away from public schools to pour into private school vouchers. This year DeVos backed a $5 million federal tax credit that will increase funding for private school tuition. Decisions like this put dire strain on the public school system. Teachers especially feel the slow erosion of public school funding. Between 1996 and 2017 the average weekly wages of public school teachers has decreased by $27. Students also suffer, in 2017-18 twelve states have cut funding by roughly seven percent per student. 

In general, the 2020 Trump administration budget proposal would aim to cut 10% from federal school funding. The plan also details eliminating the 21st Century Community Learning Program which helps provide after school and summer classes to low-income school systems. Cutting this program would close down over ten thousand after school/ summer classes. Unsurprisingly,  DeVos is behind the plan in full. It would make sense because she never worked in a public school or even attended one. In fact, she never even sent her children to a public school. She has zero experience in anything but the private school system. But long before her Secretary of Education career she and her husband spend upwards of $10 million lobbying in Washington for private school vouchers. Not to mention, she chairs the American Federation for Children, an unapologetic pro-voucher organization. 

Public education isn’t the only issue at hand. DeVos has shown a lack of experience with higher education as well. Earlier this year two lawsuits were filed against her. The first is in regards to Dream Center Education Holdings. Which bought about one hundred for-profit schools in 2017. Later in 2018 some of these schools lost accreditation. They were asked to notify students of the change in accreditation but never did. Thousands of students enrolled in these colleges under the false guise of accreditation. This allowed Dream Center Education Holdings to make millions of dollars in federal aid. Documents claim that high-level officials within the department of education knew about the fraud but allowed it to continue. This leaves students with copious amounts of time spent and debt accrued for college credits that can not be transferred. Not to mention, certain employers will be hard-pressed to consider an applicant without an accredited degree. 

DeVos is also accused of allowing debts to continue to be collected after for-profit colleges were shut down due to illegal practices, specifically the Corinthian Colleges. Over 7,500 students are still paying loans towards a useless degree. Several of these students have had their life financial life gutted then turned upside down. The voluminous amount of debt combined with the inability to find a career to pay the debt has left students with garnished wages and defiled credit scores. 

Luckily, Betsy DeVos will never have to worry about financial toil because she was born into a multi-billion dollar family. She never had to struggle for an education, one was purchased for her. The legitimacy of her appointment to Secretary of State can be called questionable at the least. It can’t be a coincidence that she has made $115,000 in personal donations to sitting Republican senators or that her family donated $950,000 in the past thirty years. Maybe she got her job because she contributed $8.3 million to Republican super-PACs over the past two election cycles. 

Money talks in Washington and the Devos family have more than enough to go around. When billionaires can easily insert themselves into politics it becomes dangerous for the working class. Our responsibility to elect representatives that bolster the quality of living becomes more and more important. The future of humanity, not just Americans, starts with a system that promotes equal education for all children.

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/us/politics/devos-tax-credit-school-choice.html
  2. https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/your-childs-rights/basics-about-childs-rights/school-vouchers-what-you-need-to-know
  3. https://www.epi.org/publication/teacher-pay-gap-2018/
  4. https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/a-punishing-decade-for-school-funding
  5. https://www.educationdive.com/news/trumps-2020-budget-proposes-school-funding-cuts-stresses-choice-for-stude/550222/
  6. https://www.federationforchildren.org/secretary-devos-school-choice/
  7. https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2019-10-23/devos-sued-amid-new-evidence-about-whether-her-agency-aided-for-profit-operator
  8. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/betsy-devos-just-bought-herself-a-trump-cabinet-position-193072/

Patrick O’Connor

education politics progressive public education school funding

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