Who’s REALLY in charge of VHS?

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"DeVos: Diabolical Puppeteer" Illustration by: Miles Bennett

Miles Bennett

This won’t be too much of a surprise to most but, a lot of students aren’t big fans of the education side of the high school experience. Many people can be blamed for this. Some choose to accuse their teachers of making their learning experience a living hell. Others direct their angry gaze towards the administration, claiming that Mr. Cohen is corrupting their poor, helpless mind by telling us to, “Make it a great day” every morning. Whether you blame your little brother or the superintendent for a bad class period, every human is hard-wired to make their problems someone else’s fault.

But who is really in charge of our education, both the good and the bad? Ladies, Gentlemen and everyone in between, put your hands together for the mastermind, well not exactly the “mastermind,” behind our learning experience as of late, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

“Betsy DeVos: Diabolical Puppeteer” Illustration by: Miles Bennett

She’s basically a principal, but instead of running one beachside High School like Mr. Cohen, she oversees every school in the United States and decides how they function. After being nominated by President Donald J. Trump, Devos was confirmed by the Senate for office on February 7th, 2017.

The senate was literally split 50-50 on voting her in, with every Democratic senator, as well as Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, opposing her.

Democratic senator Patty Murray voiced her opinions on DeVos stating: “Is this a knowledgeable candidate who understands the federal law? Is this a candidate who comes to us without conflicts of interest? Is this a candidate who is willing to stand up and be the defender of all young children in the schools? To me . . . she is not.”

Many other senators against DeVos obtaining the position and urged one more republican senator to vote against her, practically begging them to not let this woman in office. This event is made even stranger in that every other nominee for Secretary of Education has been met with little opposition, even close to a unanimous vote. In the end, Vice President Mike Pence was called to cast a vote in order to break the tie. This is the first time in history that the Vice President had to cast a tiebreaker vote in the election of any cabinet member.

Why on Earth was Betsy DeVos met with more backlash against her than any cabinet member in history? There is a myriad of reasons why she is hated by most politicians and the public alike, but one thing she parades lives more in infamy than any other thing you could throw at her.

There is solid evidence that she wants to privatize the entirety of the education system. In simpler terms, everyone would have to pay money to go to school. That isn’t just something people can ignore because if that happened then everyone everywhere in Ventura would be effected, including you. Here’s why:

13.9% of families of students in the Ventura Unified School District are in poverty, 16.6% have an income that is 100-199% above the Federal Poverty Level (Federal Poverty Level, or FPL, being the yearly income that constitutes a family or individual as “poor”; for reference, the FPL for a family of 4 is a yearly income of $25,100 or below) and 19.4% have an income 200-299% of the FPL. That would mean about 50% of kids most likely couldn’t afford school, since the national average tuition for a private school is $10,302.

Even if theoretically, the 19.4% of families that have an income of 200-299% above the FPL could afford school (they’d be lucky to) and a house and all of their daily necessities, there would still be over 7,800 kids in Ventura who would grow up without a proper education. Say what you will about school. Call it terrible. Call it hellish. But, most of the time people without educations go on to lead crappy lives.

Betsy DeVos is trying to take away your right to an education, as a public school goer. She seems to have a lack of understanding about her own field as, she can’t get her facts straight and won’t acknowledge that things she doesn’t like are working. In an interview with Leslie Stahl during 60 Minutes on CBS, Devos stated that, “We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars [into public schooling] from the federal level and we have seen zero results.” To which Stahl responded, “But that really isn’t true. Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years. So why do you keep saying nothing’s been accomplished?”

This most likely won’t come as a surprise, but Betsy DeVos grew up in a rich family and is married into one of the richest families in the world. She never attended public school and in the same interview with Leslie Stahl on 60 minutes she stated that she has, “…not intentionally visited schools that are under-performing.”

This shows not only that she has no idea what she’s trying to “fix” but she also doesn’t even seem to care about the underprivileged and the under-performing.  I don’t blame you for being little peeved at the faculty here at Ventura High from time to time. But next time you start to resent a teacher for a terrible education experience, remember that that Betsy DeVos is the one who might destroy your chance at a good life forever. And most of the adults here at VHS are doing their best to make your good life possible.