Rachel Lam

Rachel Lam, a research scientist from the U.S., works for the National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

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How Betsy DeVos' Education Plan Is at Odds with Christian Values

by Rachel Lam 03-24-2017
The goal of education reform should be to create opportunity for every child.

EDUCATION IS A fundamental good and a fundamental human right. It is basic to determining social justice. Betsy DeVos, the new Secretary of Education under President Trump, has championed three major policies that further the oppression of children of color, children with special needs, and children who live in poverty. As a matter of faith, Christians should call to account those who promote injustice—especially from positions of power. “Woe to those who make unjust laws,” railed the prophet Isaiah, “to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”

In the debate between egalitarian and libertarian approaches to education policy, DeVos is an extreme libertarian. She’s a proponent of privatizing education and letting market forces and philanthropy sort out any inequalities. Privatized education favors children of the dominant culture and the financially elite. It drives public funding toward specialized schools and programs, such as charter schools, and away from regular public schools. DeVos claims that this promotes individual freedom and allows Christian schools to be better supported. In reality, it promotes an unfair distribution of educational resources across the few while disadvantaging the many. Michigan, where DeVos has long been active, leads the country in for-profit charter schools, while student performance has plummeted.

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