Dealing in Grace

A recent New York Times Sunday edition wrote an article about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.  The article was entitled, “For Insight into the Secretary of Education’s View, View Her Education.”

The column written by Erica Green centers on Holland Michigan’s Christian High School where Ms. DeVos graduated in 1975.

Holland Christian is one of several Western Michigan nonpublic schools that have helped shape Ms. DeVos’s views of elementary and secondary education and that “her critics fear she will draw from to upend the nation’s public schools.”

At last month’s graduation at HBCU Bethune – Cookman University, Ms. DeVos, as commencement speaker, said, “My generation hasn’t done a great job when it comes to dealing with one another in grace.”

As if the statement is some religious experience.  The students made DeVos’ point with their interruptions and boos.

The article goes on to say public neighborhood schools – the vast majority of schools in this country – were hardly present in the billionaire’s childhood or adult life.

Critics say this lopsided exposure fueled Ms. DeVos’s staunch support of privately run, publicly funded charter schools and voucher programs that allow families to take tax dollars from public education system to private schools.

The article does not say that most charter schools are public charter schools sponsored by the local school district.

And school dollars actually belong to the citizens.  Where does it say that some parents must send their children to failing schools?  This reminds me of Henry Ford’s famous line – “You can have any car color, as long as it’s black.”  If educators can’t improve failing schools, then “let my people go.”

Why is it that all presidents since John F. Kennedy have sent their children to private schools in Washington, D.C.?  Do they know something you don’t?

They each say one thing and do the opposite.  They are hypocrites.

What Ms. DeVos is trying to do is empower parents with a right that she was afforded by privilege: choice.

Ms. DeVos described the role of religion in her life, “My faith motivates me to really try to work on behalf of and advocating for those who are least able to advocate for themselves.”

Giving parents a voice in their children’s education doesn’t register with Brandon Dillion, head of Michigan’s Democrat party.  He still sees Ms. DeVos as public enemy No. 1 for public schools.

John Booy, founder of Grand Rapids Potter House School, says it is all “hysterics.”  His school, which Ms. DeVos supports, charges $5,000 tuition, but allows parents to pay what they can and no more 10 percent of their income.

About 60 percent of the Potter’s House’s 560 students are minority and low income.  Mr. Booy said two things separate his school and his old public school: teacher involvement and parent buy-in.

“Even though we’re not a public school, we’re educating for the public good,” he said.  “I think we need to be more about saving a child than a child saving the system.”