I cannot tell a lie. The news of President-elect Trump’s nomination of billionaire Betsy DeVos as the next secretary of education gives me pause. Grave pause. I mean, come on, her story begins filthy rich and then she marries stinking rich — with not a hint of public schooling in sight. Trust issue duly justified.
It’s not that Billionaire Betsy went to parochial school, married Amway heir Dick DeVos, Jr., sent their children to private schools, has no practical experience in education or public service, or even the fact that she’s a high-powered bundler for the GOP. Maybe these things should produce anxiety, but, for me, not so much.
The critics lashed out true to form. Teachers union leader Randi Weingarten and the right reverend of “public education”Diane Ravitch, hissed worn out platitudes ‘public ed hater’ and ‘privatizer.’ So predictable, but, maybe not completely unfounded. Billionaire Betsy has for years promoted vouchers, charter schools, and tax-free tuition for private schools in Michigan.
At the other end of the spectrum is my own senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) offering high praise, calling her an “excellent choice.” However, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP–interesting) committee, is eager to distribute power to the states which is a subject that requires a separate counseling session. But, I digress.
I should be ecstatic that Billionaire Betsy believes in school choice and knows the right things to say:
Still, I struggle.
If I’m totally honest with myself, I’d have to admit my belief that her billionaire status precludes her from serving families dependent upon the public school system. That her silver spoon status somehow steels her compassion or worse, prohibits it. Further, I have no guilt about discriminating against billionaire Betsy because, well, she has enough cash to insulate her from pettiness.
Yes, I’m no different from the employer trashing a resume after making a rash judgement based on an applicant’s name or the loan officer making plans to reject a family only seconds after they walk through the door. I’ve given
billionaire Ms. DeVos no benefit of the doubt and I know better.
I also know that our children, America’s children, cannot afford even one of us to give up on them. We must be relentless and aim to work together. So, I will use and honor the words of brilliant comedic talent Dave Chappelle:
“I’m going to give him (her) a chance, and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he (she) give us one, too.” (parentheses added)