I am the proud product of public schools, charters and private schools alike. Luckily, I have had a great educational experience. I started my education in the public school system and now attend an Ivy League university; I am no exception. My spirits fell when I saw the final decision by HELP (U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions) to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I can understand that Republican senators see someone like Devos, a political outsider who is established and powerful, as someone who exemplifies and fights for “The American Dream.” But I am so confused as to what her redeeming qualities. Is zero experience the new norm? Nevertheless, this issue has never been just about one Ms. Betsy DeVos, this education gap has been prolonged by elitists for quite some time now.
This education issue transcends partisan politics. There are growing disparities in the quality of education between public schools in traditionally industrialized urban areas and in the suburbs, which warrants a greater call to action from local and state government.
In Philadelphia, a city known for poor learning conditions in public schools, budget cuts and funding allocation issues have led students and families to encounter countless resource shortages. According to Fund Philly Schools, “Pennsylvania corporations are enjoying $2.4 billion in tax breaks. These windfalls are the result of benefits that have been placed in the tax code over the past 10 years.”
Pay cuts and programs reductions, for instance, have led to numerous schools without an adequate number of nurses and counselors that are necessary for students to thrive mentally and emotionally. This issue can be derived from poor budgeting, enormous corporative tax breaks, and now the high. Charter schools such as KIPP, the Knowledge is Power Program, have proven to be valuable through resulting high-test scores and graduation rates. There are numerous advantages to supporting existing charter schools. I thrived in this environment and am forever grateful for KIPP, but this form of education is not accessible. Nevertheless, the prioritization of establishing and funding new charter schools leaves students in the public school system behind.
In conjunction with this example of public education matters comes the dilemma that is Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education. This Cabinet position is pivotal in pressuring state legislatures to simply do better for those placed in the system whether voluntarily or by circumstance. With the appointment of Betsy DeVos, it is more important than ever that the media be heavily critical of the senators who have supported the placement of this representative just as much as the public has been. We must remember the names of those representatives who have disappointed us.
Whether the focus is on producing a satisfactory testing agenda or enhancing programs for disabled students, city representatives need to be held accountable from both higher up officials in power and from the media to ensure that needs are being met. It is invaluable to stay educated and informed on not only the hiring of powerful individuals in the education field but also the education reform on more local levels. Public education represents job potential and intellectual fulfillment for hundreds of thousands of individuals so the issue of how to deal with the established system cannot be placed on the back burner any longer.