Opinion: As Poe puts it: Public schools continue to suffer years after Devos confirmation


Matt Poe

Matt Poe

Editor’s Note: The following column contains satire. Events mentioned in the piece are fictitious.

It’s been 10 years since former Secretary of Education and professional airhead Betsy DeVos was confirmed to the aforementioned position. If you can recall, it was early 2017 when the DeVos charade occurred, resulting in one of the most controversial cabinet appointments in U.S. history.

A lot has happened in our world since that fateful appointment: The Columbus Blue Jackets won their third Stanley Cup in five years, Vice President Bill Murray lifted the nationwide ban on cheesesteaks first implemented by former President Donald Trump and Justin Bieber was chosen as the first American pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

But back to DeVos. It took former Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie within the U.S. Senate to appoint her and served as the first time a vice president ever had to do so in terms of appointing a presidential cabinet nominee.

Senate Democrats warned of the dire consequences that could arise for parents and the futures of their children via her appointment to lead education. Hell, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken called her “the most incompetent cabinet-level nominee I have ever seen” at the time of her accepting the role.

Remember when she said that thing about needing guns in schools to protect from grizzly bears? That was funny until more states actually implemented legislation to allow guns on or near school campuses.

Remember when she couldn’t differentiate proficiency versus growth? That, too, was funny at the time; well, in a really sad way.  

Unfortunately, we didn’t take Franken’s, or many others’, warnings as seriously as we should have in those days. And we certainly didn’t take DeVos’ inability and recklessness as seriously as we should have either.

Her extreme love affair with charter schools, billionaire family ties and lack of understanding on how public schools function were all major red flags from those who damned her appointment.

Again, we didn’t listen.

I sit here writing this column from my home office waiting to leave and pick up my kids from school. I loved D.C. so much that I decided to stay in the region, get married (total smoke show, by the way) and have kids of my own, something I contemplated against during the Trump administration out of fear of bringing children into an apocalyptic wasteland.

Instead of picking them up from a respectable public school district nearby like the one I was fortunate enough to attend growing up in Ohio, I instead have to travel a solid 30 minutes just to pick them up from the charter school they attend.

Many legislators and citizens laughed at the idea that DeVos’ appointment could somehow dismantle the public school system that serves as the backbone of education for an overwhelming majority in this country. But, lo and behold, we were wrong on that one too!

Because within a year of her tenure as secretary of education, DeVos and her cronies began the rapid transformation of the public school system. Cutting funds to public schools in impoverished areas, mandating that many schools incorporate conservative, religious teachings and turning education into a for-profit enterprise were just the beginning.  

Sure, there’s always been charter and private schools that operate in such a fashion. But instead of those places acting independently of public schools as they always had, the spillage seeped over and the public school system as we knew it began to morph into something unrecognizable.

As a result of her inconceivable tenure, it wasn’t the Senate Republicans who approved DeVos that suffered; most of their children were already grown up or fortunate enough to attend the school of their choosing without any issues.

So let’s say it all together, come on now: Who suffered from Betsy Devos’ appointment as secretary of education, class?

My children. Your children. Our generation’s children. They’re the ones who are reaping the consequences of that imbecilic decision.

“Think of the children!” people tend to say both sarcastically and earnestly in many different circumstances. Well, here’s something for you: We sure as hell weren’t thinking of them when we decided to appoint this grossly incompetent woman to that position all those years ago.

Am I forgetting something … oh crap, I’m late to pick up the kids!

Matt Poe is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].