By Gary Hardie
Devos might be one of Trump’s least qualified appointees. Time and time again, she has proved to be inept on the fundamental understanding of public education in this country; this was first evident during her confirmation hearings when she could not respond to simple and direct questions about education policy. Then, she mischaracterized HBCU’s in a grammatically incorrect statement and rolled back critical Obama-era civil rights protections making marginalized populations of students more vulnerable. When given the opportunity to curtail the student debt crisis, she added fuel to the inferno.
Her recent interview on 60 Minutes was an embarrassment. If I were a part of her communications team, I would have pulled the plug on the interview. Devos’ responses or lack thereof shed a negative light on the Department of Education as a whole. Devos said she believes that introducing more choice pushes failing schools to do better. When asked about how her policies or work in education in her home state of Michigan improved schools, she danced around facts. When pressed with the reality that schools under her influence were doing worse, she fumbled her responses.
When it comes to public policy, no one gets it right all the time. There are always unintended consequences and the need for course correction as you gather new information and data. With that said, whether the results of your policies are positive or negative, you should be able to stand by the results and be able to speak to what went well or what needs a second look. In doing so, you maintain public trust, but also capture learning and experience key to the path ahead as you work to do better. Devos cannot stand by her work, has demonstrated she has not owned up to how she has failed Michigan schools, and has not learned from the experience. How is she supposed to improve the state of education in our country?
There is a learning curve for everyone when taking on a new role. I did not expect Devos to have all the answers during her confirmation hearings, but I expected her to address the flawed policy at the start of her term leading the department. But almost a year after her appointment, she is still out of touch, out of line, and still grossly unqualified to the US Department of Education. She should resign, and an experienced and successful educator should succeed her.