Betsy DeVos is the country's new education secretary. And a number of you are not happy about it. We've seen your social media posts.
Yes, some have praised her as an outsider who'll shake up the system, but many others argue she's unqualified and will hurt the public schools with her policies.
But can she? KPCC education reporter Kyle Stokes joined Take Two's A Martinez to talk about what the head of the U.S. Department of Education can really do to change what happens in your child's classroom.
Betsy DeVos was sworn in just a few hours after she was confirmed. What kind of sway does she actually have when it comes to policies on our school kids?
The U.S. Department of Education has a big portfolio of important issues that they cover:
- Critical programs that help constituencies like low-income students
- Overseeing the special education laws
- Making sure special education money is dispersed federally
- Making sure special education students get the services they're supposed to get
- Overseeing teacher quality
- Programs that pay for English language learners
- Responding to campus sexual assault, Title IX regulations
- $174 billion in federal grant programs
Many of President Trump's Cabinet nominees have faced serious criticism, but few seem to have drawn the ire of the people that Betsy DeVos has. Why do you think that is?
I think it all starts with that confirmation hearing. She had a dreadful performance in front the Senate committee, these sort-of SNL-worthy responses to some questions — the grizzly bears, the guns.
Democrats smelled blood in the water, and it made it really easy for them to close ranks in opposition to DeVos. It made it easier for teacher's unions to galvanize opposition to DeVos.
The teacher's unions said "we don't want Betsy DeVos," and Politico just had a story today saying that the head of the largest teacher's union in the country won't even try to have a relationship with her. That obviously made it easy for supporters of DeVos to frame a vote in favor of DeVos as a way to stick it to the unions. Kind-of a backlash to a backlash.
Who could win here? Who could lose?
It depends on what she is looking to do with her power, as it's limited by Congress.
There's a question of how DeVos is going to administer the Title I program. Some have argued it should be easier for those dollars to follow students to, for instance, a private schools.
She's likely to be a big supporter of big charter schools. They are going to win for sure. We're going to see more expansions of those issues, if not in policy, but because she's got the bully pulpit of the Education Secretary, and I think that's one of the biggest questions that both sides are worried about. How forceful is she going to be on the issue of school choice?
(Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.)