Being an education secretary is a position that handles and manages the school systems in the United States. The position was recently placed into the hands of Betsy DeVos. Her placement into the position was viewed by some as a peculiar and unfathomable. She has never held a position within the education department and her entire family attended private Christian schools, so she doesn’t have a real in-depth knowledge of the public school system. Many of the people who opposed her as the pick for education secretary believed her to be too ignorant after comments she made during her Senate confirmation hearings about grizzly bears being a reason schools should keep guns on the premises. She has since stated that the comment was a bit of a lighthearted comment during an otherwise very serious discussion about guns on school grounds.
The US Senate still confirmed Betsy DeVos despite some apprehension at her appointment. Some members of the Senate pointed to the philanthropy of DeVos as a reason for her appointment. DeVos has worked hard to push for charter schools in Michigan and in Florida to be funded by vouchers. She has been involved with the concept of school choice for a number of years of her life. She has also donated extensively to Potter’s House school, which is a school for children who lack opportunity. There are numerous schools across Grand Rapids that she has donated school furnishings, books, and equipment to. DeVos and her husband Dick have created several different scholarship programs as well to help students who have the academic ability, but lack the financial means to go to the schools that would be more suited to their personal needs.
Despite the complexity behind the choice of Betsy DeVos as an education secretary, she has so far done what she could to reach out to a variety of different schools, to keep conversations open with schools and the education department, to improve student performance, and to push for school districts to have more control over their decisions on rules. After her appointment as Education secretary of the United States was to speak to other members of the education department. During those discussions, she immediately set up appointments to begin having meetings with various schools in the Washington area and elsewhere. She has continued to meet with public, private, and charter schools to see how the schools can be improved. DeVos has noted that students in the United States are scoring well below in academic performance in comparison to other developed countries. She has been pushing for ways to change that. DeVos has also pushed for school districts to be able to vote on rules for their individual districts. She pointed out how the transgender bathroom rules and the decision regarding whether or not school staff should have guns on hand in case of an active shooter are both cases that should be decided upon by school districts. She believes that Congress should have an open debate on how to keep schools safe from gun violence though.
While DeVos is a bit of a complex figure to have been chosen as an education secretary, she has taken her position very seriously. She wants to continue on in her work as a changemaker for communities just as she has had a positive influence on communities in her home state with her philanthropy work in the school systems. Perhaps the most complex thing about her will be that she will cause change to happen in the education department that will truly fix the problems within it.
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