I attended the hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on Betsy DeVos’ nomination to be our next secretary of the Department of Education, as a show of support for a woman I know to be a compassionate advocate for children with disabilities.
It was abundantly clear early on in the hearing that the American people are rightfully frustrated with the extreme partisanship in Washington, D.C. The Democrats in the hearing room were far more interested in delivering political cheap shots and scoring points for their special interest friends than having a fair and balanced discussion about Mrs. DeVos’ qualifications and her philosophy for education reform. It was a sad and sorry spectacle.
As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, I take great offense to the suggestion of some Democrats and their benefactors in the teacher’s unions that Mrs. DeVos doesn’t care about students with developmental disabilities.
I know Betsy DeVos because she came to Ohio and stood shoulder to shoulder with me and other parents of children with special needs to fight for access to better schools. While federal law is supposed to protect the rights of disabled children, parents like me know that the system too often fails to live up to its promises.
Students with special needs are often neglected and their parents are forced to jump over enormous barriers, often at considerable personal expense, to get their children the services they need to learn and thrive.
Mrs. DeVos joined our cause in Ohio to create a voucher program to allow parents to send their kids to private schools that do a better job of educating special needs students. Thanks to Mrs. DeVos advocacy, my son, Sam, gained access to a better school and is now a high school graduate. I know that Betsy DeVos has a big heart and deep concern for all students in America, especially the most vulnerable children.
While the Democrats in Washington were grandstanding, Mrs. DeVos was composed, articulate and passionate in outlining her belief that education policy should be driven, first and foremost, by what is best for school children and their parents.
The education establishment and labor bosses in the teacher’s unions are fiercely opposing Mrs. DeVos because they know she is tough, determined and driven by one thing and one thing only; to raise the bar on education in America.
I was amazed that the Washington Democrats spent so much time attacking Mrs. DeVos for her family’s success. For the past 28 years, Betsy DeVos and her husband have given generously to philanthropic causes and to advance education reform in America.
The DeVoses even founded their own charter school in Michigan, which is now one of the highest performing high schools in her home state. Mrs. DeVos has also personally mentored at-risk children in public schools. This is a woman motivated by a deep desire to help kids learn, and she has given her time and money to achieve this goal.
It was amazing that the Democrats could look at this record of altruism and only question its motivations. It was proof that partisanship can be blinding and the interests of adults take precedence oftentimes to the interests of children, even those most in need of assistance.
I am not a political expert, but as a mom from Ohio, I think we could use a lot more people like Betsy DeVos in our nation’s capital. We certainly need our elected officials to begin thinking about what parents want instead of doing the bidding of the teacher’s unions that are often hostile to the reforms we need to ensure better opportunities for our kids.
Betsy DeVos places parents like me and kids like Sam first, which is why I believe she will be an excellent education secretary.
Tera Myers is a parent of a child with special needs and supporter of Betsy DeVos’ nomination to be Secretary of Education.
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