In the wake of a controversial presidential election and executive orders dominating politics, America is mobilized for battle on all fronts. Gender, race, and basic human rights have been called into question and sparked protests nationwide. The dissent of a severely divided America has never been more obvious, and yet more and more situations are causing outrage. Today, on February 7th, the Senate approved Betsy DeVos for the cabinet position of Secretary of Education. This current event pertains exactly to our discussion of privilege, in which social, economic, and racial advantages can launch unfit people into power.

DeVos was nominated by President Trump and subsequently voted into office as the Secretary of Education by the Senate. The 51 to 50 vote was filibustered by the democratic party, and the final decision-making lasted all night. Finally, Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie and finalized the cabinet position for DeVos, making it “the first time a vice president has been summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination.” Clearly the nomination of DeVos struck a discord in Washington, though it is the ‘why’ that insinuates privilege.

DeVos grew up wealthy and married into the Amway fortune. Also, she has only educated herself and her children in private schooling apart from government influence. Her donations to Republican causes and candidates (including senators) exceed $200 million, perhaps facilitating her win over the Republican majority in the Senate. Needless to say, DeVos has been officially confirmed in this cabinet position regardless.

Teacher’s unions and even charter schools have protested DeVos’s role in education, given her nearly complete inexperience with the public school system. Without knowing how government-managed public education functions, it is impossible to assume that she will solve any problems. Concern has also arisen from DeVos’s past comments of public schooling as a “dead end,” apparently discounting the system involving over 50 million students.

According to the National Center of Education Statistics, the percentage of white students in public schools was about 50% in 2013, and decreasing. By 2025, it is predicted that the majority of students in public schools will be considered minorities– African-American, Hispanic, Asian, etc. If DeVos solely advocates for private and charter schools, what will happen to the integrity of the already-flawed public school system in America? How will minorities continue to be marginalized as efforts are given to schools either inaccessible or unaffordable? A Secretary of Education such as Betsy DeVos has the ability to affect society through education, and I hope that the American people and government can serve as a balance for any unjust or ineffective decisions as a result.

The article I am referencing 🙂