AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post was originally written on Medium by the administrator of this blog and has been republished in full.
Above the fold on the front page of today’s issue of The News-Gazette, a Champaign, Illinois-based newspaper that covers the east-central part of Illinois and has a very right-wing reputation, was this story about how many in the public education community are opposed to the nomination of Betsy DeVos to the office of U.S. Secretary of Education.
In The News-Gazette’s attempt to find a DeVos supporter, they couldn’t find a single one in the educational community in East Central Illinois.
The strongest opposition to DeVos came obviously from teachers’ union leaders, although many in management (i.e., public school administrators) strongly opposed DeVos as well. Sheila Greenwood, the superintendent of schools in the Bement, Illinois public school system (covering southern portions of Piatt County, Illinois), said this about DeVos:
Bement Superintendent Sheila Greenwood was so appalled by how DeVos answered senators’ questions last month that she contacted her legislators, “begging them to put a stop to this insanity.”
“She couldn’t answer basic questions about schools, funding or assessment. She is uber-wealthy and has no experiences with public education because she lives like the 1 percent and knows nothing,” Greenwood said. “I think Trump will have his puppet and others will run the department.
Jeremy Darnell, the superintendent of the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley public school system in Illinois (map of district here), said this about DeVos:
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Superintendent Jeremy Darnell was unimpressed with her hearing, as well, saying it was “very evident” she lacks understanding of current education issues.
“Votes should be cast on merit, preparation and the ability to effectively fill an essential role in our national government, not party line politics,” Darnell said. “All appointments should be considered for their ability to effectively advise our elected leadership. No leader can be a master at all so the essential need to surround yourself with experts in their field is more important today than ever.
The Bement and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school districts are located in some of the most Republican areas in all of Illinois, and voters in both school districts voted overwhelmingly for Trump.
The closest person that The News-Gazette could find to a DeVos supporter was Mr. Seth Miller, the superintendent of the public school system that I attended, the Westville Community Unit School District in Illinois. I’m paraphrasing, but Mr. Miller’s thoughts about DeVos were basically of the “give DeVos a chance if she’s confirmed” mentality without offering any explicit support of DeVos:
“We have the best educational system in the world. A leader who is committed to children, who need access to public education, would receive my support,” Miller said. “… Spirited debate with informed constituents helps make us a strong country — big enough and brave enough for diverse opinions. It is my hope that whoever is confirmed as the next secretary of education will help perpetuate this democratic ideal in our public school system.”
Having seen video clips of the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, it is clear to me that, if confirmed, DeVos would be a downright horrible Education Secretary.