Letter to the Editor: Education Concern: What’s Next?

Gibraltar Schools are clearly some of the best in the state thanks to staff and parents, but is there potential for a dark future? When sharing successful teaching strategies during a presentation at the WEAC state teacher convention recently, I was surprised that aspiring teachers had not heard of Betsy DeVos, the Trump-appointed education secretary. In 2018, DeVos said her mission is to expand “publicly funded, privately operated” for-profit schools.

Recently Judge Sallie Kim fined DeVos $100,000 in a class-action lawsuit to be shared by attorneys and borrowers who were defrauded by their private educational institution. DeVos will not pay personally – taxpayers will pay the fine. DeVos retains her job as the nation’s highest education official. Her parents are billionaires. She married a multi-billion-dollar Amway heir. She has no degree in education and attended private schools.

Michael Harriot said, “Before DeVos took the job that she was not qualified for, the Obama administration had already passed the Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule, which offers student-loan debt forgiveness. The suit alleged that the Department of Education illegally and intentionally delayed the rule’s implementation.”

Privatized education offers no guarantee that each child will learn to make informed choices to support representative democracy or to support living in healthy, safe communities that value differences, human rights, and the healthful, critical resources of water, air and land.

Private schools have been around since 1682. Parents have had choices since then. Public schools ideally focus on helping each student learn to achieve the American Dream, while a private-school choice added one of many perspectives that parents paid for, such as a religious focus. 

Some educators and parents believe there is a hidden agenda that privileges a wealthy oligarchy in the rapidly expanding for-profit shift in schooling and segregation. They may be right. Children could become expendable resources in a government of, by and for a few people. 

A long time ago, I made the choice to support public schools and now rally for these fundamental rights for all kids. Will you? 

Carole Vande Walle

Fish Creek, Wisconsin