You could not have had two more diametrically opposed headlines these past days. Betsy DeVos was confirmed (by an historic Vice Presidential tie-breaking vote) for Education Secretary, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced that all SF residents are eligible for free community college starting in the Fall.
Ms. DeVos’ s controversy stems from her large donations to the senators who voted for her and her apparent lack of fundamental knowledge and experience in public education in America. Ms. DeVos is a proponent of charter schools and vouchers. Only two Republican senators voted against her nomination – one was Ms. Murkowski who was influenced by thousands of messages from her constituents and the nominee’s lack of awareness of what actually is successful within the public schools, what is broken and how to fix them. However, Senator Lamar Alexander said Ms. DeVos had “led the most effective public school reform movement over the last few years”.
David E. Kirkland, an education professor at New York University who has studied Ms. DeVos’s impact in Michigan, said he feared she could hurt public education and pull resources out of schools in need of federal funding. We shall see what transpires.
And at the other end of the spectrum was Mayor Ed Lee announcing that City College of San Francisco will be free of charge to all city residents. The city will also contribute $250 to full-time, low income students who already receive a state-funded fee waiver. This will give them money to pay for books, transportation, school supplies etc. Part-time students will also get $100 per semester. The city Supervisor likened the agreement to public schooling for K-12 saying that “City College would be free to all, too.”
Our Net Impact chapters were busy addressing DeVos’s impact on education. At Northwestern, the Net Impact chapter hosted three panelists to discuss why there is inequity within the education system and what can be done to alleviate it.
Despite concerns about the changing education environment, the panelists called on Northwestern students to take an active role in fighting education inequity by joining campus organizations and voting in local school board elections.
We encourage all our Net Impact members to take an active role in fighting for what they believe in.