I implore you to vote “NO” on Betsy DeVos’s appointment to head the Department of Education. You and I are both committed to ensuring that all children of our nation being granted an excellent and affordable education. Ms. DeVos has shown that she isn’t interested in either. Her record in Michigan proves that she’s invested in narrow sectarian ideals and the undermining of excellent education for our nation’s poorest children. From criminality to health, from poor literacy to drug problems, from family integrity to community connectedness, research and common sense show that underfunding and defunding schools greatly increase risks for those already put at risk from poverty. For all of the talk of unity by the current administration, Ms. DeVos has proven that she is interested in dividing us by haves and have nots which are connected to race as well. She would create massive fractures in our society. Ms. DeVos’s actions in Michigan show that she is contemptuous of the plights or our poorest people.
Second, Ms. DeVos’s ignorance about fundamental policies shows her indifference to much of what the Department of Education is for. For example, her responses to questions about the IDEA were nothing short of appalling. She attempted to back track, but she’d already showed her hand. Can you imagine the uproar from a confirmation hearing for former Secretaries Duncan, Paige, Alexander, or Spellings being so ignorant? No. It would have sunk their nominations.
Third and finally, I work at Penn State University where I also earned my bachelor’s degree. When I was a junior and senior, I worked at the Center for Women Students providing programming for incoming students on sexual assault. It is a tragic reality that so many women are sexually assaulted and raped on college campuses including Penn State’s. Fully a quarter of our female students report being assaulted and 80% report being harassed. I myself have known too many women–and a few men–who have been assaulted during their college tenures. And let’s not forget the great stain that Jerry Sandusky left on Penn State. Ms. DeVos’ cavalier attitude toward and non-responses about sexual assault should offend all people who are invested in dignity.
Were Ms. DeVos to apply for any administrative position at a school or university, I’d imagine she’d be rejected out of hand. You should reject her too. I expect you will.