East Lansing School Board passed resolution in opposition to Devos confirmation
The East Lansing School Board passed a resolution on Jan. 23 that opposes the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. The resolution urges all U.S. senators to vote against her confirmation on Tuesday as well.
lists a number of concerns the board has with DeVos’ policies, including her lack of experience regarding public schools and her advocacy for charter schools. The motion also addresses the board’s concern that DeVos’ policies would be detrimental for public school students.
The resolution was proposed by trustee Karen Hoene and seconded by trustee Erin Graham.
“I started thinking that we needed to write something because the hearing made it very clear just how much damage that her policies could do,” Graham said.
Hoene and Graham co-wrote the resolution before bringing it to the board. Hoene said she felt it was her obligation to pass the resolution as a trustee on the board.
“It’s symbolic, I mean, we realize it’s symbolic more than anything, but I think there’s power in voices of people,” Hoene said. “We’re local elected officials. ... It almost feels like our obligation.”
One of the main grievances the board has with DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education is her lack of experience with the public education system.
“She has never attended public school, she’s never sent her children to public school, she’s never taught in a public school, she doesn’t have any sort of degree in any sort of educational field and she’s never worked in any sort of educational field,” Hoene said. “She’s never taken out a student loan, she has no experience with the basic premise of this position.”
East Lansing Board of Education President Nell Kuhnmuench said DeVos’ experience lies in charter schools and that it appears her work has always been in areas that support charter schools, which is another area of concern the East Lansing Board of Education has.
“There’s an effort to privatize education, so to take it out of the hands of the government and privatize education through charter schools, which can be run by for-profits and the voucher system,” Graham said. “We know that here in Michigan, a lot of money has been taken away from traditional or non-charter public schools by charter schools, and vouchers would just exacerbate that issue.”
When funding is taken away from public schools by new charter schools, public schools end up closing because they’re unable to pay building operational costs and teachers, Graham explained.
“A lot of these policies that she would bring in I do believe would harm our under-served students,” Graham said.
Kuhnmuench said the hope of the board is that DeVos will not be appointed as Secretary of Education.
“I think the importance is to participate in our democracy and have our voices heard,” Kuhnmuench said.
Hoene and Graham hoped passing this resolution would influence other schools to pass similar resolutions. After passing the resolution in East Lansing, the Ann Arbor Public Schools School Board also denouncing DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education.
“We hoped that maybe us doing this, passing this resolution, would inspire other school districts around the state and around the country to do the same thing,” Hoene said.
Hoene also said rejecting DeVos as Secretary of Education is a public show of support for teachers.
“I think our teachers are very concerned about Betsy DeVos and what that might mean to their future funding of public schools,” Hoene said. “Part of it for me was wanting to show our community, our teachers, our students that we have their back, basically.”
The most important responsibility the trustees have is protecting children, especially vulnerable children who are at the most risk, Hoene said.
“Personally, I can speak for myself, I felt it was my duty as a school board trustee, as someone that has been elected by my community, to safeguard our children and our teachers and our parents in our community that we had to get up and take a public stand,” Hoene said.