There is much that can be written about yesterday’s confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education, but the individual who said it best is Jeanne Allen, the CEO of the Center For Education Reform. Here are her comments a day before the final Senate vote with a few of mine to follow:
“The ongoing protests over Betsy DeVos demonstrate a decades-old controversy among education leaders – is it better to have someone who has been inside traditional public education, or someone has watched and participated from the outside? Because CER has always sought to ensure the adoption of innovation and policy changes that deliberately upset the status quo, we believe Betsy DeVos will make a fine Education Secretary. She brings a new and valuable perspective that would benefit American families and children. We also understand the concerns that have been raised, but do not believe those should disqualify her from the important role of leading a national commitment to making all schools work for all children.
The real issue at hand is not about the Secretary of Education at all, but the clear and present crisis in education and the lack of opportunities that exist for so many families who struggle against the inertia of a stagnant and 20th century system. While the world is filled with 21st century technologies, most schools still deliver lessons as if they were using the McGuffey Reader.
American education is struggling. Recent NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores show that considerably fewer than half (40%) of America’s fourth graders are proficient in math. Even fewer (36%) are proficient in reading. In fact, less than half of students at all grade levels are proficient in any of the nine curriculum areas studied.
We have a steep hill to climb, and it’s important that we put politics behind us and take the right road to get to the top.”
Here in the District of Columbia, after 20 years of tough thoroughly dedicated school reform, just around twenty five percent of our children are college and career ready.
As controversial as this candidate has been, it is time for doing something else. Ms. DeVos has been fighting for greater educational opportunities for low-income students for more than two decades. Now she can bring this struggle to the national stage.