Betsy DeVos is a woman on a mission. Despite being dragged over hot coals by the mainstream media, from being mocked for her lack of university degree to being accused of only getting the job of Education Secretary because her family are long time donors to the Republican Party, she is standing defiantly against anybody who tries to get in her way.
At CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) on Friday, Secretary DeVos was finally given a chance to demonstrate what she’s really made of. “My job isn’t to win a popularity contest with the media or the education establishment here in Washington,” she told the assembled audience. “My job as Secretary of Education is to make education work for students.” Finally the children of America, consistently let down by the education establishment, have some good news.
At time when more than 1.3 million children are dropping out of high school every single year, and the Common Core programme is turning its children into robots, this news is more than welcome. The Obama administration’s solution to the educational crisis was to throw money at it in the hope that it would go away, and this has proven to be an unparalleled disaster. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the classic Socialist solution to a problem has failed yet again.
Secretary DeVos’s proposed method for cleaning up this mess is centred around one word that those on the Left despise: choice. In this case it is school choice the Left are bristling about, which is a direct contrast to the current system where children are expected to attend the school within their ZIP code. This means that a child from a disadvantaged background will face no chance of flourishing educationally if their local school is below standard. These children, suffering through no fault of their own, are the victims of a great social and cultural injustice. You would think that the Democrats would want to tackle this: alas, they are content with continuing this trend.
Why exactly they are so opposed to her ideas could not be more unclear. It appears that they’re not quite sure either, demonstrated most clearly by their shameless attempts at character assassination during her confirmation hearing. Whilst Senator Al Franken queried whether she supported conversion therapy for gay people, despite there being precisely no evidence to even imply that she would, Senator Elizabeth Warren shamelessly implied that Secretary DeVos was not suitable for the role because she had never taken out a student loan. In the absence of an actual intellectual argument, the Democrat senators resorted to spite and virtue signalling.
It is with Betsy DeVos in mind that we should assess our own Secretary of State for Education: Justine Greening. She has made her main concern the introduction of grammar schools which, whilst a nice idea, will not actually help to solve our own educational mess.
Let’s think about this logically for a moment. Most school aged children could tell you Pythagoras’s Theorem, but could they tell you about Yeats? How about Aristotle? Marx? Rand? Everybody can go to a library but teachers are not doing enough to encourage pupils to access this resource, choosing instead to obsess over a senseless and empty National Curriculum.
The topic of education has merely been reduced to a chance at gaining political capital., with not a thought for the children that this actually affects. In America, the Democrats would rather score political points than stimulate change which would uniquely benefit the children that they claim to be protecting. Meanwhile, in England, the political parties argue bitterly over the strengths and weaknesses of grammar schools instead of engaging directly with the dire state of education.
It is Betsy DeVos who stands against the crowd, thinking of the young people she has been charged with protecting. Their education is – literally – in her hands, and she does not fail to remember it. Her aim is not to become a famous face, she does not even appear to want to be liked, but she does want to do everything she can to ensure that young people are given a chance. A chance at a quality education. A chance to choose their path. A chance to broaden their minds.
During her address to CPAC, she told her audience that “I took this job because I want to return power in education back to where it belongs: with parents, communities, and states.” Until more people acknowledge the need for such a basic change, the world stage is going to be a very cold place for Secretary Betsy DeVos.