SU Dean: DeVos lacking knowledge in education, federal policy

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On the thinnest margin, Betsy DeVos has been sworn in as the country’s new Secretary of Education.

For educators like Syracuse University School of Education Dean Joanna Masingila, the outcome was troubling as she cites a lack of education and public school knowledge on DeVos’ part.

“She wasn’t very familiar with some of the federal laws like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and so that’s concerning,” Masingila said. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but I think there’s a fear that that could be rolled back if you have a person who is not familiar with and not an advocate for that.”

Despite the opposition, DeVos tweeted her appreciation for the “senate’s diligence” and he also mentioned her focus on improving “options and outcomes” for all students.

Among the options DeVos touts are “school of choice” and charter schools.

Dean Masingila says the requirements are simply not the same under charter school regulations which she believes sets up classrooms with under-qualified teachers.

“That evidence hasn’t shown that charter schools are better for students in helping them in learning. In fact, sometimes they’ve failed,” Masingila explained. “There have been a fairly high rate of charter schools that have not been successful. These are children’s lives and children’s learning.”

Masingila says this United States is about public school and the good of the public – our leader in education should not be fighting against it.

“It’s very complicated. It’s quite different from a business and so you can’t treat it as just something you make decisions about,” Masingila explained. “You have to do it with the fact that you have children’s lives and their future are at stake in decisions you make about it.”

While she remains hopeful in the future of education, Masingila says there is much uncertainty with DeVos’ viewpoints.

“To treat it as an industry is kind of ignoring the human factor there and everybody learns differently,” Masingila said.
Ellen Eagan, the founder of a proposed charter high school in Syracuse, OnTECH, tells NewsChannel 9 she is also concerned about DeVos’ new role.

Eagan released this statement:

OnTECH  Charter High School is an independent, public school and intends to be an incubator of ideas, complementary to the Syracuse City School District. Public school education is at the core of our democracy, and we hope that Secretary DeVos works hard to understand the potential of public school education as one of the civil rights of our times.

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