Give new Secretary of Education a chance

By Daniel Flores

People might have thought Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sounded crazy when she responded to a question about whether guns should be in schools during her January confirmation.

According to U.S. News & World Report, she said, in reference to a school in Wapiti, Wyoming that put up a fence to protect children from grizzly bears, “I think probably there, I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

This is not a sign of someone who is crazy, instead it is a sign of someone who has simply never been to a public school.

Seriously, what do you really know about DeVos? Like myself, you probably only know the stuff that comes up on your Facebook feed like: DeVos never went to public school, no one in her family went to public school, she has never held public office and she is in the Donald Trump pick- whoops, I mean cabinet choice.

Now everyone seems to hate Betsy DeVos, but even if you disagree with our current administration, we owe it to ourselves to stay informed and keep DeVos honest in her role, because if her department fails, that creates problems for education, which leads to problems in our future.

The Washington Post reported that DeVos was Republican Party chairwoman in Michigan and chair of the pro-school-choice advocacy group American Federation for Children, and she has worked to create programs and pass laws that require the use of public funds to pay for private school tuition. She also contributed to the spread of charter schools in Michigan.

Still, most of the information reported has been about her view on K-12 education, but how will DeVos affect higher education?

As a student, I am concerned about how DeVos will handle this new responsibility. While Minor is willing to give DeVos the benefit of the doubt, I am more skeptical.

DeVos inherits a department that has over $170 billion in its budget, which includes $17 billion that is invested into California. Her decisions will affect those who depend on financial aid and those who depend on grants from the federal government.

I talked to the director of the financial aid department at Cal Poly Pomona, Diana Y. Minor. She has worked in the office for 20 years, so she knows her stuff.

“From what I have read, it has been shared that Mrs. DeVos also has no prior experience working in education, and has never held a professional position as an educator, though she has spent decades advocating for school voucher programs and the privatization of schools. These are concerns to me,” said Minor. “In one article I did read about her, it indicated that in education, in business and in politics, Betsy has been a pioneer in fighting to remove barriers, to enact change and to create environments where people have the opportunity to thrive.”

She also touched on her opinion on DeVos and how she feels DeVos will affect students at CPP.

“At any rate, she has been confirmed, so we give her a chance and hope for the best. I give her my best because at the end of the day, if she fails in her position, where does that leave education? Which is near and dear to my heart,” said Minor.

Minor also mentioned that when she began in financial aid, she knew nothing about it, but she adjusted and learned.

According to CSU Mentor, “students determined to have financial need who received any financial aid [were] 95 percent of full-time undergraduate [students].”

That means if you are reading the Poly Post, you are most likely in need of financial aid from our government.

Lastly, even while worrying about my fellow students’ fiscal problems, there is something else to consider.

While listening to the Take Two podcast, education reporter Kyle Stokes brought up something interesting when talking about DeVos’ possible impact.

“Issues of civil rights, things like campus sexual assault and the Title IX regulations- the Obama administration for instance had taken a very stepped up approach to making the department more active in this space,” Stokes explained.

At this point we are a in a season of unknowing. The best medicine is to just pay attention to what is going on. Don’t be the person who gets caught off-guard with bad news, be the person who is on the front lines trying to make a difference.

Daniel Flores is very interested in politics.

Give new Secretary of Education a chance

Robert Diep / The Poly Post

Give new Secretary of Education a chance

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