By James Hill
In his stirring inaugural address, President Donald Trump spoke eloquently and passionately about fighting for the forgotten men and women of America. His pledge to put “America First” resonates strongly with working families in Missouri who want better-paying jobs, and a stronger and safer country for their kids.
In naming Betsy DeVos to be his education secretary, President Trump has picked a fierce fighter who will stand up for the forgotten school children in our country who have been left behind in woefully underperforming schools. For nearly 30 years, Betsy DeVos has been in the trenches of the conservative education reform movement, fighting for expanded school choice and parental control to give hope to students trapped in failing public schools. She has proven time and again that she has the courage and mettle to take on the bosses within teacher’s unions who have willfully relegated generations of American kids to second-class educations.
The situation in American education is no longer defensible. Despite record spending on K-12 schools, America’s high school students ranked 40th in math and 25th in science last year, and less than 40 percent of high school graduates are college or workforce ready. The poor quality of some of America’s schools is a serious drag on our economy and long-term competitiveness. We can’t make America great again until we make our schools great again.
The Washington Democrats, who blindly do the bidding of the bosses within the teachers’ unions, have only one answer to this crisis in American education; throw even more money at the problem. In the last week of the Barack Obama presidency, his own Department of Education unveiled a report that showed the folly of this approach. From 2010 to 2015, the Obama Administration pumped $7 billion of new money into America’s worst public schools. Yet, there has been no corresponding improvement in test scores, graduation rates or college enrollment for the students attending these bad schools. It is just the latest example of Washington wasting our tax dollars. Sadly, at-risk children were the victims of Washington’s incompetency yet again.
Instead of asking taxpayers to do more, Mrs. DeVos will demand that professional educators up their game. Rather than micromanaging our schools from Washington, D.C., she will put her trust in the ultimate wisdom of parents to pick the best schools for their children. Betsy DeVos has argued convincingly and with heartfelt passion that every child in America should have access to a great school regardless of their income or zip code. Senator Claire McCaskill would be making a very unwise move if she lines up behind an education establishment that fights against expanded choice and parental control to deny President Trump his preferred education secretary.
Missourians supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by nearly 20 points on Election Day because they expect him to bring big change to Washington. Senator McCaskill should show some independence by bucking the coastal elites in her party and voting to confirm Betsy DeVos to be our next secretary of education.
Mrs. DeVos is one of the most successful and dedicated education reformers in America. She has the leadership skills and passion for children to do a great job in leading a resurgence in American education, and the union bosses’ ranting aside, there is no reason she should not be given the opportunity to do so.
James Hill is a current and former charter school board member and resides in St. Louis