North Texas Daily

Trump nominated the wrong Secretary of Education

Trump nominated the wrong Secretary of Education

Trump nominated the wrong Secretary of Education
January 19
11:05 2017

The Editorial Board

If Betsy DeVos becomes the Secretary of Education, our student debt will be even more endangered.

The president-elect’s nominee for the position has faced numerous criticisms after her confirmation hearing on Tuesday. This woman, who could potentially lead the U.S. Department of Education, attempted to defend her qualifications throughout the hearing by making several questionable answers to the inquiries of Democratic senators and avoiding to answer many of them altogether.

Among the most peculiar of her answers was when Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut asked for her thoughts on firearms being near schools – still taking the Sandy Hook massacre into account. DeVos said, “I think probably there, I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

But possibly her most alarming response happened when Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota asked DeVos if she believed that test scores should measure the proficiency or growth of American students. This is important for any basic understanding of education since “it [literally] affects how schools are labeled as succeeding or failing.”

“I think, if I’m understanding your question correctly around proficiency, I would also correlate it to competency and mastery,” DeVos said to Sen. Franken, “so that each student is measured according to the advancement they’re making in each subject area.” In response, Franken said that she described growth, “not proficiency.”

DeVos, whose family’s net worth is reportedly $5.1 billion, couldn’t even answer a basic proficiency or growth question, which have been the subjects of debate ever since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The reason that her answer was so alarming is because “proficiency” refers to whether or not a student can progress to the next grade level, depending on their test scores. “Growth” is how much the student has learned, regardless if the student has been held back or not.

If DeVos confuses these two concepts right now, she’s certainly not fit to be the Secretary of Education – let alone an educator.

And she was never even a college student like many of us are. In the words of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, “the Department of Education is responsible for managing a trillion dollar student loan bank, and distributing $30 billion in Pell Grants to students” annually.

During her grilling of DeVos, Warren made sure to mention how “the financial futures of an entire generation” would rest on her reign as Secretary of Education.

When Warren asked DeVos if she had any experience at running a bank, DeVos said no. When she was asked if she ever managed “trillion [or billion] dollar loan [programs]” before, she said no. When she was asked if she or her kids had any experiences with borrowing money for college, she responded, “Not personal experience, but certainly friends and students with whom I have worked.”

For us, Trump’s nomination of DeVos seems to be another step in a long line of businessmen festering their way in U.S. political power. Judging by her hearing alone, she failed to grasp education basics, showed irrational thoughts on gun legislation and – worst of all – admitted a lack of connection to the issues of college students.

According to a 2016 study from MarketWatch and the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College, the total U.S. student loan debt is $1.2 trillion, which is “the second highest level of consumer debt behind mortgages.”

Since most of that money is from loans held by the federal government, putting DeVos in charge of this problem would only worsen our debt. If she won the nomination, she would be fifteenth in the line of presidential succession.

Although that number may appear small, her only superiors would include Paul Ryan, Rex Tillerson and the extremely popular Jeff Sessions. How great.

So please, U.S. Senate, act within the greater good of everyone and vote against Betsy DeVos. Us college students would really appreciate it.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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