On Feb. 8, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education in President Trump’s cabinet. After a tenuous 24-hour protest led by Senate Democrats, DeVos won after a 50-50 tie in the Senate was broken by Vice President Mike Pence.
This nomination was, according to CNN, “Trump’s toughest confirmation battle yet,” and for good reason: Betsy DeVos is against public schools, and that spells trouble for the children of our nation who are most dependent on public resources.
According to The New Yorker, Betsy DeVos is a billionaire who has never worked, been enrolled or had children enrolled in public school.
She has never been an educator nor an administrator. She instead has a strong dislike for public institutions, has led the movement for privatizing public schools and lobbied for charter schools in Detroit, Michigan.
According to The Washington Post, DeVos’ nomination could mean the loss of funding for public schools, thus leaving millions of students to enroll in charter schools. Often a charter school’s “primary mission is to sustain a flow of dollars, not provide an excellent education.”
These charter schools, according to CNN, have historically had lower-than-average test scores that have fared no better than traditional public schools.
Since Fordham is a private institution, Fordham students will not suffer directly from DeVos’ nomination, as we have passed our primary and secondary education.
Many students’ families who have children enrolled in private schools will not hurt from DeVos’ time as Secretary either.
We at The Fordham Ram encourage students to take a step back and think of how this nomination might affect our Bronx community.
The South Bronx is the seventh public school district of Manhattan, where 19,200 students attend school. According to The New York Daily News, 93 percent of District 7 students are “economically disadvantaged,” and “one in 10 students is homeless.” Only 54 percent, of the students graduate.
Reading and math proficiency are the lowest in the city, with 10 percent and 13 percent, respectively. The New York Daily News dubbed it “the city’s worst school district.”
These students are our neighbors and we are a part of their community.
Betsy DeVos’ confirmation may negatively affect this district and its chances of getting more funding and more resources, according to an article from DNAinfo.
Fordham students may feel powerless in the situation. However, we are blessed that Fordham provides us with opportunities to help schools in our community.
The Dorothy Day Center has opportunities for students to tutor students in the Bronx, with programs such as the Rosedale Achievement Center, the Crotona Achievement Center and Peer Health Exchange, to name a few. This is the perfect opportunity to not only help but also explore our Bronx community, one that is easy to neglect while living on Fordham’s fenced-in campus.
Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity, once said, “For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.”
We have the opportunity to step up and support our fellow students in District 7 in order to create a more whole and healthy community. We must show this love and concern during this time of vulnerability for our local public schools.