By John Auchter
What goes on in Betsy DeVos’s head? Why would somebody who clearly disdains public servants want to be a public servant by leading an enormous agency of public servants? I don’t know, but let’s conjecture:
I don’t think her decision-making is directly related to being hyper-rich. There are plenty of hyper-rich people who have demonstrated human empathy and have made excellent public servants. Some point to her Calvinist Christianity roots (I have grace, you don’t — I’m going to heaven, you…are not.). But true Calvinists tend to be insular and generally avoid having to spend time with the riff-raff.
No, if I had to guess I’d say it’s her zealous ideology, which may be the one thing that humanizes her. We all can get caught up in wanting our vision to be right so badly that we willingly ignore anything that proves it otherwise — facts, actual data, real-world consequences.
DeVos clearly believes that vouchers and charters and her vision of marketplace competition will bring education excellence to our United States. And I don’t disagree that some of these principles have merit. What scares me about DeVos is her unwillingness (or inability) to celebrate the successes of public education. Yes, there have been abject failures, but they have been vastly outnumbered by systems that work extremely well and are cornerstones of communities. We should build on that, not steal from it.