, , , , ,

Two miles into my treadmill workout at the YMCA I looked down at the miniature television screen and saw the headline, DeVos in Danger!

The White House’s new occupant’s nominee to lead the Department of Education is Betsy DeVos. Her confirmation by the Senate became questionable when two moderate Republicans announced they could not vote for her.

My heart is not bleeding for Betsy. She is alarmingly wealthy, and she has devoted much of her adult life to dismantling the nation’s public education system. She has taken dollars out of public schools to benefit private schools.

She has also displayed a mind-boggling lack of understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), a federal law that requires public schools to provide free and appropriate education to all students with disabilities. She said she thinks states should have the right to decide how to spend federal funding for these students. Senator Tim Kaine called her on this: “So some states might be good to kids with disabilities and other states might not be so good and, what then, people can just move around the country if they don’t like how kids are being treated?”

DeVos has never worked in a public school. She sent her children to private schools. I’m sure if a school hadn’t suited her, she would not have thought twice about finding one that did and being able to afford it.

My daughter was born with an extra chromosome. She is flourishing in a public school thanks to its leadership and her extraordinary teacher. Ellen is more than holding her own with other students who are her age.

My husband and I both work at an inclusive (not exclusive), college-preparatory private high school for teens with a variety of learning styles and parents of all financial backgrounds. It is our dream that Ellen will flourish there when she is older. I know firsthand the sacrifices parents make for a decent, safe educational environment for their children. Part of my job is finding tuition assistance for these parents.

I picked up my pace on the treadmill when I saw the headline. I seriously doubt Betsy, whose family is one of the wealthiest in Michigan, will ever have to clip coupons, worry about paying the rent, or take on two or three jobs to afford a good school for her grandchildren.

DeVos in danger? Please! What is alarming is the possibility of her jeopardizing opportunities for our country’s children.