As alumni and students of Calvin College we share an educational background with Betsy DeVos, the current nominee for United States Secretary of Education. Not only did we all receive degrees from the same undergraduate institution as Mrs. DeVos, but many of us also began our education at private Christian schools, just like the current Education nominee. We have no doubt that Mrs. DeVos is among the best-educated college graduates in the country. Calvin College is highly regarded as an institution that values intellectualism, critical thinking, discernment, and academic excellence—qualities for which we remain very grateful.
We are writing to share our concerns about Mrs. DeVos as nominee for Secretary of Education. This is why we believe she is not qualified for the position:
1) While many of us were inspired by our time at Calvin College to make education a professional commitment, Mrs. DeVos was not. She has never worked in any educational institution as an administrator, nor as an educator. If the position of the Secretary of Education requires the individual to have an intimate knowledge of the tools used by educators, which we believe it does, Mrs. DeVos does not qualify.
2) Many of us entered Calvin College directly from Christian high schools and spent our entire elementary and secondary school years in these institutions, as did Mrs. DeVos. While we appreciate the opportunity to thrive and learn, as provided by these educational systems, we recognize that the vast majority of K–12 students are educated in the public school system. Because of this, we believe that any individual who is nominated to be Secretary of Education should have a strong commitment to public education, which Mrs. DeVos does not.
3) We believe that Mrs. DeVos’ commitment to education is limited to her advocacy of, and financial contributions to, religious and charter schools. Having the financial resources to promote one’s ideological point of view, and endorse elected officials who share that ideology, is not equivalent to the preparation that comes from being an educator or educational administrator.
4) Finally, in the first day of her confirmation hearing, Mrs. DeVos indicated a lack of support for federal policies regarding educational systems that receive public funding. This lack of support is especially concerning given that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Title IX, which ensure that all students’ educational experiences are free of discrimination that impedes learning, are not of value to Mrs. DeVos.
Our undergraduate education prepared us to be engaged and informed citizens who support public servants who seek to serve effectively and competently. This is precisely why we oppose the nomination of our fellow alumna, Betsy DeVos, for the position of United States Secretary of Education.