I found myself in one of those rare moments of screaming at my smart phone, “Have you, Bernie Sanders, ever seen a dying 7-year-old at the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital? What would that 7-year-old sitting in heaven, be thinking of you sitting here today, and how would she answer your question posed to Betsy Devos.
Nominated as Education Secretary, Betsy Devos had to face the music from an elite group of Senators. “How much have you donated to the Republicans over the years. Will you commit that you will not work to privatize, or cut funding” for public schools, “Guns, do they have any place in or around schools?”
With the rapidity of a machine gun, the questions kept coming, and with grace she answered politely. When Senator Elizabeth Warren asked, if she or any of her children had ever had to take out a student loan to help pay for college. “They have been fortunate not to,” DeVos stated humbly.
The elite attitude from a group of elite Senators was apparent today. Regardless of any position on school vouchers or gun control, the spirit of the questions, I think, were apparent and wrong. I hope that my thoughts are not skewed by my knowledge of the good Betsy Devos and her family have contributed to Michigan throughout the years, but there has to be a better way of asking questions apart from grandstanding.
Betsy’s biggest critics argue that she is for school vouchers. These are vouchers paid for by taxpayers, given to private companies, for public education. The detractors contend that taxpayer dollars should not be used for private companies, even it is for the intended public good. The greater fear of her opposers, perhaps, is that voucher policies will do away with public schools. It is a fair argument. Let’s have the discussion. The naysayers, also point to Michigan’s voucher policy implementation, utilized by charter schools, as an example of voucher’s inherent failures. Over forty percent, critics claim, of Michigan’s Charter schools are a dismal failure. Again, this is a fair argument. Let’s have the discussion.
I suspect further that many of her detractors are weary that she is a conservative Christian and is willing to force her views on others under the name of vouchers and private schools. Let’s have the discussion.
I am in no means advocating that the Senate shun their responsibilities as an advise and consent body, but it easy to be self-righteous, argumentative, and even fearful of another when you have not walked in their shoes. It is timely for the senators to be reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “People fail to get along because they fear each other; and they fear each other because they don’t know each other; and they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
Well, I do know the Devos’s, and I suppose, like all of us, there is good at the very core. The good that I see coming from the core of Betsy Devos, I love.
The Dick and Betsy Devos website states, “Our faith motivates our giving; it is integral to who we are and what we do. Our giving is centered in cultivating leadership, accelerating transformation and leveraging support in five areas:
Justice: Fundamentally, we believe all people have the right and access to justice. We support organizations that help free, rescue, or provide access to the oppressed and the vulnerable.
Education: We strive to be a catalyst for positive change by expanding choices and improving access opportunities primarily in K-12 education.
Community: We endeavor to make West Michigan a desirable place to live by supporting efforts that lead to community transformation, improve community health and provide support for essential community needs.
Arts: Nationally and internationally, we build capacity in arts leaders and equip them to effectively manage and lead their organizations.
Leadership: With intention, we aim to train, equip, support and develop leaders.
Rather than screaming at grandstanding senators, that cannot hear me, it may be better for me to holler, and advocate until the words of Dick and Betsy Devos become reality.