Column: DeVos confirmation concerning for public schools’ futures

I wasn’t surprised when I saw Vice President Mike Pence cast a tiebreaking vote to officially secure Betsy DeVos’ position as Secretary of Education Tuesday. I was, however, concerned for future students across the United States.

When I first heard DeVos telling the Senate she didn’t go to public school, nor had her children go to public school, I struggled to imagine her and her family’s immediate connection to people — like, actual people and not just billionaires.

DeVos herself is a billionaire, having been born to Michigan industrialist (and surprise, fellow billionaire) Edgar Prince, marrying Dick DeVos Jr., billionaire and son of the co-founder of Amway Corporation and owner of Orlando Magic, and then venturing into business herself. DeVos is the chair of the Windquest Group, a “privately held enterprise and investment management firm.”

I recently thought about the most money I’ve ever had in my life and, of course, it comes nowhere near the collective sacks of bills held by the DeVos conglomerate.

Almost everyone I know went to public school. My pre-school, elementary school, middle school and high school experiences were all through the West Virginia public school system. Even my choice for college, Marshall University, is a public school.

I’ve never known anything aside from how public school was for me. My conception of private schools was misguided at best. My father attended Catholic school near Syracuse, New York and told me about the nuns he faced on a day-to-day basis. Oh god, the nuns. He was left with scars on his knuckles from rulers and that was enough to divert me from Catholic school. Other than that, I just picture uniforms and a severe lack of individuality.

If that’s how I felt about private school, I can only imagine DeVos’ perception of public school. Maybe DeVos thinks all administrative members of the faculty are running secret “Fight Club”-esque tournaments after hours. Maybe DeVos views public school students as receiving a worse education because of their social status. Who’s to say?

Again, not surprised that DeVos got the position and I’m really, really, really not surprised that President Donald Trump is picking out-of-touch appointees to fill gaps in the bureaucratic circus. Trump’s picks are like monkeys on a trapeze act. They’re doing everything they can to get that banana from a ruthless man, who holds all of the power in their eyes.

I just hope for the sake of my young family members that I’m wrong regarding DeVos and her disconnection. Only time will really tell what will happen to future scholars, but with some luck and campaigns to correct the misinformation peddled by DeVos, we may be able to get by these next four years with our brains relatively unscathed.

Will Izzo can be contacted at [email protected].