Such a statement was made of Betsy DeVos, the current Secretary of Education, to emphasize her lack of reality. She has been regularly accused of being ignorant, unproductive, and unprepared. Yet, strung throughout Richard Perez-Pena’s criticism of DeVos’ place in the Trump Administration, which appeared in the New York Times on 23 February 2017, there was a hint of acclaim. He did not praise her ideology; in fact, it was made quite clear that DeVos’ agenda to reform the American education system falls short of understanding the reality millions of children face. However, credit was given to her aggressive political prowess. According to multiple sources, though she appears composed in public when challenged, DeVos meets criticism with aikido and allows it to fuel her campaign for school choice. The point, according to Perez-Pena, is that despite DeVos’ miscalculations that have created a shoddy solution to the wrong problem, DeVos can play politics with the big shots, and she sports an impenetrable poker face. It is questionable, however, whether the criticism fuels progress, or simply allows her to sit comfortably in the driver’s seat—on autopilot.
DeVos grew up in a wealthy Michigan family, attended private schools, never received loans to pay for college, worked at her father’s auto parts company, and believes that public schools and private/charter schools should receive equal public monetary support. She encourages vouchers and voucher-like programs that foot the bill for private/religious schools with public funds, a phenomenon many believe blurs a fundamental line between church and state. Though she remains poorly-versed in basic terms like “proficiency” and “growth,” she smiles sweetly and insists that school choice will improve the country’s lagging yields in education.
DeVos appeared in the New York Times after she disagreed with President Trump’s recension of the law allowing transgender students to use the school bathroom corresponding to the gender with which they identify. Despite her loss, DeVos seemed indifferent, instead castigating the “receiving,” (rather than proactive), tone of public school educators in Florida (to no effect). Though Perez-Pena may have misjudged her proficiency astride the political giant, he is right about one thing: her poker face is guarded by more than Secret Security. It is quite difficult to tell whether she is for Trump, or for traditional, conservative views of education. Because, according to the latest trends, you can’t be both.