By Brian L. Love
As President-elect Trump continues to build the cabinet for his new administration, he continues to baffle many of his new constituents. As with the election that showed our national divide, so are the reactions to his appointments. While half the country praises them, the other half scratches their head and tremble with fear. Especially his Secretary of Education appointment, Betsy DeVos. She will be our nation’s education leader.
Today, I speak from a unique position about Mrs. DeVos. As a former lobbyist for Students First Michigan, I have lobbied with and at times against her organization, The Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) within the last three years on K-12 education policy. In both instances I observed similar techniques to her/GLEP’s approach to education reform.
Like her team, Mrs. DeVos is hard working on issues that she believes in. She will either be all in to support you (as long as you agree with her 100%) or she will be all out against you and will use the resources at her disposal to prove her point and win. I can see why Mr. Trump tapped her. They have a lot in common when it comes to politics—except she has been doing this longer than Mr. Trump and has supported many federal and Michigan legislators who support her views. Also, the formation of GLEP is proof positive of this. They were formed and funded by Mrs. DeVos to fight for her beliefs in education.
We did work together on Third Grade Reading legislation to make it more difficult to continue to promote kids who could not read at grade level. We agreed on other policies such as performance pay for teachers and eventually agreed on teacher evaluations.
On the flip side. GLEP and I never saw eye to eye on the Detroit education package that passed earlier this year. Sure it provided much needed money to keep the district going and helped resolve its debt. But these measures were shortsighted and will not help Detroit kids long term. The legislation didn't address needed accountability for charter schools or deal with the logistics of city schools that sit on top of each other which has become a disservice to Detroit families. These are issues that don’t concern Mrs. DeVos. Most likely because she feels competition for market share should solve these problems.
She is probably right, in the long term. The problem is, many of our kids are lost between schools rising and falling. Detroit is already living through this now—and it doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon. We can’t afford to lose kids for the sake of business opportunities. But she proved how determined she was by funding legislators who supported GLEP’s stance during the DPS legislation push.
The amendments of the bill her organization supported passed. The other parts of the bill did not. But the reforms for the district were not strong enough or long lasting. When you have a GLEP supporter who says, “Let the DPS go under,” that shows a lack of understanding how such policies would adversely affect Detroit families. Especially, when it would not affect that supporter’s community.
Understand, I’m a school choice supporter. My baby girl is a freshman at a charter high school. But I support good choices. That is what charters are meant to be for our children. I will continue to beat this drum. All of our children deserve and have the right to a great education.
Either way. Betsy DeVos has shown that she will go all out to support and pass legislation that she supports. And she will go hard against legislation that she feels goes against school choice. We as Americans who support “all” of our children need to understand what is coming—and who is delivering the what.
In the ’hood, it is said: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game!” We have to understand the game, so we can deal with what is coming. We must do it for all of our children.
Please share how you feel about school choice and Betsy DeVos @DSchoolsRock on Twitter. These are times when we can all learn from each other. #Voices4Ed #ChoiceIsOurs #EveryStudentMatters