DeVos appointment creates concern among education majors


U.S. VP Mike Pence, swears in Betsy DeVos , as the Education Secretary in the Vice Presidents Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House on February 7, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Hannah Wagner

Newly appointed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos created a stir on campus among education majors, making them question how her appointment will affect their careers.

Blake Strozyk, a junior integrated language arts major, joked with his class about dropping his major after the appointment of the new educational secretary.

“I do have some concerns,” Strozyk said. “I find it troubling when a federal bureaucracy leader has never been a teacher or attended a public school.”

Strozyk said he has been gauging the reactions of his education professors, who have seemed anxious, wondering where education is going to go.

“Education is always changing,” Strozyk said. “But, if you’re in it for the right reasons, no matter who is in charge, I believe you can be successful.”

Cultural foundations graduate student Kait Klonowski said she is disappointed in DeVos’ appointment and feels it was a step backward in improving the education system.

“People are jumping through hoops to reach standards to keep receiving funding,” she said. “Schools that aren’t achieving will be set up to lose.”

With 20 years of teaching experience, Klonowski said DeVos’s lack of teaching and public school experience puts more concern on funding schools in rural areas.

“The biggest thing is to remind people it’s easy to target schools and teachers that aren’t performing well,” Klonowski said. “They are disregarding social and economic structures.”

Klonowski said that the question should not be whether a school is good or bad, but about an equitable system to fund schools so everyone has an equal opportunity. Instead of grouping schools as needing to be fixed, it should be society, she said.

Jeffrey King, a junior managerial marketing major, said he believes DeVos is someone that will reform education. King attended a private high school, saying it was the only option unless he wanted to attend the failing public school in his district.

“I feel if Betsy DeVos was failing and the option was there when I was in high school, she could have helped my parents,” King said. “I believe she will reform schools and help kids get an education to further their career.”

William Kist, a professor of literacy courses in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum studies, said he isn’t necessarily surprised DeVos was appointed.

“We have had decades of policy makers who had absolutely no experience in policy education making policy decisions,” Kist said. “While I think many educators are shocked, it is not unheard of.”

Kist said the issue whether policy is going to be driven by test scores could potentially impact educational students at Kent.

“If it turns that funding is attached to test scores, then that will impact the work lives of future teachers,” Kist said. “We just can’t know for sure.”

Getting more educators politically involved is the best way to show the general public that there are many successes in public schools Kist said.

“I think the good news for students is that this appointment won’t impact them too directly,” Kist said. “I think there will still be plenty of jobs and many ways of impacting future students’ lives.”

Kist said he focuses on what a great career teaching is, and others need to do a better job of sharing how they make a difference in someone’s life everyday through teaching.

Strozyk said he believes in the public school system.

“It’s an opportunity to mix people with a diverse background and help broaden the spectrum,” he said.

Hannah Wagner is the education, health and human services reporter, contact her at [email protected].