Education News

5 Reasons Betsy DeVos is Bad for Public Schools

By Amanda Menas

Over the two years since Betsy DeVos was confirmed as President Trump’s secretary of education, she has worked against the best interests of public schools. From proposing funding cuts to promoting privatization to rolling back protections for vulnerable children, she has ignored the voices of educators across the country about what students need. 

DeVos has never worked in a public school. She has never been a teacher, a school administrator, nor served on any public board of education. She didn’t even attend public schools or send her children to public schools. 

As NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, a former elementary teacher from Utah, says DeVos is “the first secretary of education with zero experience with public schools…. She is out of her league when it comes to knowing and doing what works for public school students.”

Educators knew from the start that DeVos would be a disastrous choice, and she has been. Here are five times she has harmed our students, educators, and public schools.

1. She wants to privatize public schools

 Betsy DeVos has consistently pushed to expand federal vouchers that will take money from public schools to give to private schools. Her voucher bill is a brazen scheme that would take $50 billion from public schools over 10 years. Meanwhile, DeVos and President Trump proposed to cut education spending by $8.5 billion in 2020, eliminating more than two dozen programs that help public schools, including teacher development, academic support and enrichment, and after-school activities.

In the 2020 State of the Union, it was clear she had influenced Trump when he called for a national voucher program. She has also opened the door for private schools and religious organizations to receive a windfall of taxpayer funding. DeVos says the U.S. Department of Education will no longer enforce provisions that require federally funded services be provided only by public employees or contractors independent of private schools and religious organizations. It is an unprecedented move for a federal agency to indicate its intent not to enforce the law as written.

2. She won’t support students with disabilities

Starting off on the wrong foot, Betsy DeVos could not even address fundamental questions about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, including whether states and localities have to comply, during her confirmation hearing. Since then, she has stalled efforts to fight racial inequities in special education, causing a judge to rule against the education secretary’s proposal to delay an Obama-era rule that protects minority students in special education. The judge referred to DeVos’ attempted delay as “arbitrary and capricious.”

When DeVos proposed a $7 billion cut to education funding, she included a 26 percent reduction to state grants for special education and millions of dollars in cuts to programs for students who are blind. 

3. She opposes workers rights to collective bargaining

In 2018, the DeVos-led Education Department attempted to strip its employees of collective bargaining rights by unilaterally imposing a “collective bargaining agreement” on 3,900 union staffers represented by the American Federation of Government Employees Council 252, saying they will no longer bargain with them.

Long before she was secretary of education, Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos, wielded their immense wealth to fund the legislative lobbying that gutted workers’ rights in their home state of Michigan. 

4. She wants more guns in our schools

Following her viral quote about allowing guns in Montana schools to protect against a “potential grizzly,” DeVos endorsed a plan to put guns in schools. She proposed using federal grant money intended for academics and student enrichment to purchase firearms for teachers to keep in their classrooms

She eventually backed away from the plan, after educators and parents expressed outrage, citing the potential danger to students and teachers alike. Still, she served as chair of Trump’s school safety commission, whose recommendations do little to protect students. The commission was formed after the largest mass shooting at a high school, in Parkland, Fla. Instead of addressing gun laws, the commission instead dismantled students’ civil rights protections by rescinding an Obama-era policy directing schools not to punish minority students at higher rates than white students.

5. She works against victims of assault

In 2017, DeVos rescinded sexual assault guidelines and weakened protections against sexual harassment and assault afforded by Title IX. DeVos attempted to explain, saying, “Any perceived offense can become a full-blown Title IX investigation. But if everything is harassment, then nothing is.” The National Women’s Law Center said DeVos’ approach “signals a green light to sweep sexual assault further under the rug.”

Later, she introduced regulations requiring cross-examination of victims of campus sexual assault. Experts, educators, and parents agree that the proposal will effectively deter survivors from coming forward to report an assault. Universities would be held less responsible. Managing attorney of the Women’s Law Project Terry Fromson says these policies would allow schools to “ignore much of the sexual harassment that occurs in schools.”

61 responses to “5 Reasons Betsy DeVos is Bad for Public Schools

  1. I am a 75 year woman. I attended Catholic school from K-12 where my parents chose to pay tuition. My parents voted for every school tax levy/bond issue reminding us that parochial school was a choice but as citizens we are obligated to support quality public education. I am now a retired teacher but I still have a vivid memory of a college professor (I use the term loosely) who said in class that “Those who can DO. Those who CAN’T teach. I suspect Betsy DeVos would support that statement. (except of course the teachers in her private schools)
    In my Public School district I witnessed more kindness, respect, unselfish giving to students/families/community, intelligence, skill, art, dedication to teaching than I had ever imagined. TEACHING IS NOT A JOB. TEACHING IS A LIFE. I was, & am, proud to say I was a public school teacher.
    I am pained by the inequities existing in our system including treatment/education of minority students & students with disabilities & the continuing financial cuts. This MUST CHANGE NOW!
    I challenge anyone who considers teachers to be babysitters to spend one day in a Public School classroom!

  2. Many inner-city schools have exceptionally low literacy rates. School vouchers allow the poor to go to schools that aren’t failing their students. How can we lower race-based disparities if we cannot provide POC with good educations?

    1. How? Stop tolerating racism. Religion has no business in public schools, and to use race to advance the premise that “We just want to help” is bullshit. The wealthier the neighborhood, the more money it receives for its schools. Does that make sense. The poorest schools receive less money. To make public schools in poor areas and in the lives of people of color, better, there must be fair distribution of tax dollars to individual schools. To make better schools you have to Invest in the communities. Not just white, wealthy communities.

      1. If you want students in poor neighborhoods to get a better education then allow them to attend better schools via school choice. Anecdotally, there are schools in my region that are better funded that are failing and vice versa.

      2. Who said bring religion into public schools? But at the same time, if private and parochial schools have to follow the state curriculum why can’t they get state funding to get teachers who can teach said curriculum? Some families hold their religion paramount as a daily part of their lives and public school isn’t an option due to some deviations in the curriculum that are antithetical to their beliefs, why should force parents to pay 10s of thousands of dollars just because of their religion? That sounds like religious persecution. Vouchers allow for parents to choose a school that fits their child’s learning style, and find peers that work for them which portends to better to success outcomes.

      3. Kids in the poorest areas spend as much per student or more than the suburban schools. When lotteries were touted to help the poorest school districts they found it was the rural schools to be the most underfunded, not inner city schools. The poor areas not having as much to spend has been debunked decades ago.

  3. By her own admission, neither Betsy DeVos or any of her children attended public schools. Therefore, what qualifies her to be a judge of public education? Also, if I understood her correctly, she wants to privatize public school to where only those who have the financial means can send their children to private institutions of learning. As for those who cannot afford it, they are being denied a chance to better themselves through quality education. They are left behind, left out in the cold without any hopes of bettering themselves. Her thinking is just plain wrong. It is almost as if she feels threatened by public education and that is why she wants to dismantle it. Betsy DeVos is the black widow of American public education.

    1. Pretty sure the voucher system is supposed to address that. To give children without the means the opportunity to go to the school of their choice. The “speak” says that she is giving money to private schools, but the way i read it that really means the private schools get more money because lower income children can escape failing schools to go to private ones via the voucher system and the money follows the child. Isn’t that the way it should be? The schools are mad because they see dollar signs, but parents may see a better opportunity for their child. Which is more desirable? I wholeheartedly understand however, why educators want to know that fellow educators are in the position of Education Secretary.

  4. I went to a public school before (because now I go to a private school) and it was, FSR, very good. But then my history private school teacher said that Betsy DeVos was the dumbest person in history.

  5. I am not a teacher but I went to a public school. The problem is that I had to go to the school in the district I lived in and the teachers in my district were definitely not the best. I don’t know much about Mrs DeVos but I am trying to learn about her so I can make a informed decisions on who to vote for. I will say from reading these comments it sounds like most of the people commenting are probably school teachers more worried about your pay checks than your student’s. This is a comment from a mother not a teacher.

    1. I will say from reading your comments that you come off as a person who unfortunately thinks little of teachers and teaching. How ironic that you say teachers care more about their paychecks than their students. I don’t know of any teacher that goes into teaching for the money. I hope you read more about Secretary DeVos and money.
      Fortunately, many parents had a new recognition and appreciation for teachers during this pandemic.

      1. I know plenty of teaches. I was married to one and I do know the hardships of teaching. I also know the cynical side of it. I have heard teaches say they are just “doing their time” in lower rung school districts. waiting for a “better” school to have openings, or a private or charter school to have openings. I have heard many joke about getting “ combat pay” for working in the lower rung districts. I’m not saying teachers don’t care, but in the hundreds that I met through the years in various activities all but maybe early age elementary school teachers were human and looked at it as a job, and would ditch what they had in a second if something better came along.

          1. That is over the top, he is just telling the truth and I hope no one marries you because you can’t respect other people opinions

          2. So how many years of teaching do you have? Did you get offered a job outside of academics for twice the amount of money but said”an, I’m good” I don’t need extra money. I’m rich. I guess some people have all luck right. Maybe you teach higher education and have tenure, so you never really have to work another day in your life.

    2. I am a school teacher AND a mother and I will ALWAYS put the children’s’ needs first and foremost! I am offended by your comment of teachers care more about their paychecks than their students!! I can guarantee you I did not get into education for the money! For you to insinuate otherwise is ridiculous. Have you every really LOOK at a teacher’s paycheck?? Have you ever paid CLOSE attention to the out if pocket money teachers put into their classrooms in order to have the tools needed to teach YOUR child? I went to school 8 years to get my Master’s degree and STILL continue to PAY OUT OF MY POCKET for classes to keep on top of new ways to give your child the best education I can. On top of all of this, I pay for the majority of the supplies in my classroom on a salary of LESS than any other professional who have their Masters Degree. So dear walk a mile in MY shoes before you start throwing out such nonsense

      1. But Cheri it is impossible for a teacher to get fired and teachers get one of the best pension plans when it comes to job occupation and good teachers get the same salary as a bad teachers so then their is no motivation and then there is no reason for the bad teachers to get better so maybe it is not the money, but you probably took into consideration that after working a few years you get tenure and will never get fired or that every teacher will be paid the same no matter how good or bad the teachers are doing.

        1. That is terrible to say that about any teacher and not true. If you are not a teacher you would have no way of knowing why someone becomes a teacher.

        2. Tenure doesn’t protect your job if you aren’t doing your job. Maybe you should have paid attention in your public school teachings. Seen middle school, high school, and college teachers all get the can. The only thing tenure does in the case of situations where you can be fired is allow you a fair hearing for incompetence or wrongdoings.

          Devos is a piece of shit. If you think otherwise you’re either uninformed or a brainwashed republican.

    3. As a teacher, let me assure you that the 60 hours a week I put in is solely for the students and not the 2 thousand dollar a month paycheck.

    4. Since you are not a teacher, please do not presume to know what teachers worry about.
      1) We do not go into teaching for the money. My level of education far supersedes my salary.
      2) Teacher have just as much a right to worry about salary as all other American workers. We should not be shamed by wanting to make a living. How come doctors are not? Dentists? Lawyers?
      3) Let me tell you what teachers have to worry about: politics interfering with them doing their jobs; being asked (no, told), that not only are we responsible for “teaching,” we are responsible for childcare, feeding kids, supporting their mental well-being, parents increasing needs and wants, working more and more hours without compensation, and raising other people’s children.
      4) We are one of the few professions where we are highly educated, yet constantly being told what to do and how to do our jobs by people who are not in the field themselves. We are constantly being vilified, blamed when things go “wrong,” but never thanked when something goes good (instead we are told, “Well, that’s your job.”).

    5. I’m glad you are trying to learn! And I’m going to give you my perspective as a college student in the field of education. I started college as a nursing major, it was a safe job with good pay. But I was extremely unhappy. Fast forward the end of my second semester of college I decided to change majors. I knew I loved teaching and I do well with children. So I went to talk to the head advisor of the elementary education department. She laid out quite well what being a teacher would entail. That in the state I live in I would not be paid well and most candidates actually went to teach out of state. After that meeting and conversations with my loved ones I decided despite knowing that most likely I would struggle financially in life, I was passionate about this path and I would work through the rest. It’s not because teachers don’t care about the students, it’s because how can you give the most to these students when you can’t survive on a single income and have to take side jobs. How can you give the most and undivided attention when you cannot pay your bills and have to work a side job at dominoes? You say you are a mother, well, I remember a time where my mom had to work three jobs to keep us fed and she did, but she wasn’t able to provide us with the attention we needed so desperately bad. Mrs. Devos proves time and time again she is incapable of caring for anyone outside her elite group. That she doesn’t care about making the public education system better but hampering it and keeping the teachers quiet and submissive.

    6. Well it’s very obvious that you aren’t a teacher because we spend money from our paychecks on our students many, many times in public schools. We don’t expect you to understand but if you’re going to waste your time “trying to learn about Betsy”, maybe you should try to learn about teachers too. Also, wouldn’t anyone in any job worry about their pay being cut if they heard millions of dollars were being cut from funding?! So, if teachers are worried about pay cuts, don’t you think that’s pretty understandable?! I mean, teacher pay is public info. Search any public school around you and see if you think they get paid enough to raise a family and take care of their students when no one else is. We do it because we love the kids. Definitely not for the pay and if you learned more about teachers you would know how much work goes into earning the sad paychecks. You’d also know it’s worth it because we know we are making a difference in the lives of kids….even if people like you can’t see that.

    7. There is no way someone gets into teaching “for the money not the students.” Teacher pay is abysmally low in many locations. For example, my friend works at Walmart as a stocker and has been there 6 months. He makes $3/hr more than a substitute teacher, more per year then a preschool or PE teacher, and less then $10 thousand a year under the highest paid teaching position of middle school teacher (yes middle school and kindergarten are paid higher then any other teachers here). He also works less hours, has far less stress and doesn’t have to buy supplies for his job and other people at his job out of his own pocket.

  6. Do not forget to vote out the senators who confirmed her. Who also have done nothing for public education. Please vote out all GOP and maybe true conservatives can take back the party or join the Democrats.

  7. Public Education has been the strong basis for the U.S.A. and it’s success as a free nation for centuries. It has proven itself the foundation for the American Success Story.

    1. There, goes the separation of “church and state” with money going to religious schools. Thanks, to Trump and Betsy Devos.

  8. Inexperience and politics must stay out of our schools! We need competent people to make it right. When will we ever learn? DeVos must go.

  9. Charter schools here in AZ are perfect examples of all that is wrong with her policies. Poor educations coupled with outright graft have resulted instead of better education and well run schools.

    1. Bobby! Before commenting about America’s dumbest education secretary in history, you yourself should get an education. It sounds as if you got your lack of education from a charter or catholic school. Because the public school system was very good, although republicans will beg to differ, until Duvos got her stupid little deadly hands on them. For you to say that Duvos, who never attended public schools as a rich little white girl and has absolutely no education background, has turned the public school system into a shit show. How dare you say the public school system sucked before the bitch Betsy took over! You can’t even spell heard! Or put a complete sentence together. Betsy Duvos has done nothing but ruin our public schools. She’s as stupid as you are. If you still believe she wants to improve public schools, then please tell us how. A reply would be appreciated you fucking tool.

      1. Jill, you are nothing more than a hate filled beast.

        The public school system in America is a disgrace. It is filled with teachers trying to instill their liberal political beliefs on our poor kids, Our children are taught to questions their gender and to be ashamed of their race.

        1. When people say that teachers are trying to push liberal views what are they talking about?!?! If you’re talking about teaching children equality, acceptance, and self worth then what is the problem?! Those are the only views that MAKE PEOPLE DECENT HUMAN BEINGS that I guess you could see as liberal views. Public education NEVER pushed liberal views on me.

      2. Jill. I am just reading this, months later. Two things: I hope you are NOT a teacher. You sound like an extremely angry person and not very bright. Resorting to attacking and cuss words is proof. I most assuredly would not want my kids under your tutelage.
        Second: Her name is DeVos, not DuVos. So you spent all this time mocking and tearing down Jeff for his misspellings and look at you, misspelling the Secretary’s name! Unbelievable. I’m not trying to change your opinion of DeVos. I am asking you to look in the mirror.

      1. Jeff, I think you may like to put teachers into a box and generalize them. Is this a headline you saw on Fox News? I work in public schools and I can tell you I have never met a teacher who would do so. No teacher is teaching students to question their gender. I can’t believe you would actually think that. Do some hands-on research please before you open your ignorant mouth. If public schools are such a disgrace and you feel the need to comment this, why not get in there and do your part change it? Oh wait, you won’t. You’ll just sit on you ass and complain about issues that are misleading and incorrect . If you care about education so much why not educate yourself? This is coming from a republican as well so please get your head out of your ass. Your statement is the furthest thing from the truth. Don’t believe the stuff you see going viral on the internet, it’s their to get as many views/shares/likes as possible. People like you make me scared for the future. Please come down to reality Jeff.

    1. Each individual gets to decide if they want to be a Christ follower or not. Are you talking about J/C ethics?

  10. I think the first public school in the 13 colonies opened in Boston (1635). I have heard DeVos and the present administration and even some GOP governors using the term”government schools “instead of PUBLIC SCHOOLS! Free public schools help all children not just the rich or select children in private schools.

  11. Just affirms the fact that a moron with money can get anywhere in Trump’s administration of horror. DeVos is but one example of Trumpists working in direct opposition to the public good. Stay home and bake cookies, Betsy. Let someone with brains in her head and good in her heart take the wheel. Like most but smoochers in Trump’s administration, you clearly don’t have a clue.

  12. I got sick to my stomach when I read this women’s credentails and what she has done. Trump puts anyone in the jobs needing filled without proper vetting. I would like to know if this crazy women was vetted.

    1. Then why are you taking the time to read it? At least you can read. Do you remember the name of your first grade teacher? Mine was Miss Compton, and I am now 73 years old. Obviously, she made an impression. I went to school during the post-war baby boom. We had 40 students in our classes, yet our public school teachers found ways to see that every child learned how to read, do math, and more importantly, learned to respect each other and their teacher.

  13. Items 3,4, and 5 unfortunately suffer from use that are utilized in the extreme and therefore infringe on the rights of other parties Union member rights directly damage the entitlements of students often disguised as needed administrative needs. The administration Of assault victims rights is good legal intent run wildly off course by academic need for absolute clarity.

  14. So sad for a position without any experience in that position Our public schools are the heart of education

  15. She is what most people thought she is, bad for public education. When November 3, 2020 arrives every public educator better vote for someone other than trump. If trump is reelected, then the reign of betsy will continue. This is the message that all public school educators must hear.

  16. Her basic belief is unless your rich, we really shouldn’t bother educating you. If you are rich, we will help you get the education you want – private with no rules so you can exclude anyone that is not like you.

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