Americans say they care about public education, but they haven’t the slightest idea how public education works in this country. That’s the only way to explain the overblown opposition to Betsy DeVos’s confirmation this week as U.S. secretary of education.
Judging from my Facebook and Twitter feeds, an awful lot of people seem to think DeVos will be “in charge of our nation’s children.” Others bemoaned that DeVos now will be “the head of all our educators” and “running the largest school system in the world.”
Happily, DeVos will be none of those things. She merely will be head of the U.S. Department of Education, one of the least powerful Cabinet agencies in the federal government and one arguably that shouldn’t even exist.
Fact is, the federal government accounts for about 9 percent of total public education funding across the country. The rest of the money—and authority—rests with state and local governments. As it should.
This widespread misunderstanding of DeVos’ role is, at the very least, a profound failure of civic education. It’s also a kind of triumph for the administrative state and its hangers-on: the teachers unions (obviously), the professional associations and left-leaning activist groups that never met a government program or agency that wasn’t worth expanding.
You could hear it throughout DeVos’ admittedly lackluster confirmation hearing last month.
Read the rest at the Sacramento Bee.