Over 1,000 Students/Alumni from DeVos’ Alma Mater, Calvin College, Believe She Is Unqualified for US Ed Sec.
An article protesting the nomination of Betsy DeVos was posted in the Calvin College newspaper, Chimes. (Note: I had to play with link to get it to work.)
DeVos is a Calvin College alumna.
I first read about the letter on January 24, 2017, in Valerie Strauss’ column, “The Answer Sheet,” in the Washington Post.
The goal of the letter is for Calvin College alumni to have a document to send to senators.
Since Strauss’ posting, Calvin College has apparently released an official statement:
UPDATE: Calvin College has released the following statement:
Our graduate Betsy DeVos is responding to her sense of call to public service, and more than 60,000 alumni from a variety of political perspectives are discerning the best ways to engage politics and culture in this moment. In all of this, our alumni are living out what we hope our students are learning during their time on campus: to think deeply, to act justly and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.
Below are excerpts from what is apparently the original, January 23, 2017, article. The included letter is a strong one, and it indicates that those signing believe that DeVos does not have the background suited to serving as an overseer of public education:
Hundreds of Calvin alumni have signed a letter opposing their fellow alumna Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as United States Secretary of Education.
The letter was drafted and circulated by Sara Moslener, ’96, on Saturday, Jan. 21. As of 11 p.m. Monday night, it had over 700 signatures. …
[Schneider update: According to MLive, by January 24, 2017, the number of signers had exceeded 1,000.]
Alumni of multiple generations have signed the letter, from the class of 1953 to the expected class of 2018. …
The text of the letter is as follows:
As alumni and students of Calvin College we share an educational background with Betsy DeVos, the current nominee for United States Secretary of Education. … We have no doubt that Mrs. DeVos is among the best-educated college graduates in the country. …
We are writing to share our concerns about Mrs. DeVos as nominee for Secretary of Education. There are several reasons 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. …
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 that is 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’s 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 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.
I appreciate the above message from Calvin College students and alumni for its tone of respect, responsibility and concern for the welfare of students in public schools nationwide.
I also appreciate that the signers did not feel obliged to silence their voices for fear of loss of DeVos funding. (Read about the Devos-Prince $20 million to Calvin College in 1998 among the DeVos news archives in this post.)
PS: At the end of the Calvin College article is a brief yet spirited comments section in which some students/alum continue to hash out their opinions about the DeVos nomination and the formal petition against it. Worth a read.