From DeVos to Education Policy: Refocusing Protests

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From DeVos to Education Policy: Refocusing Protests

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Kacee Baker | Contributing Writer

Betsy DeVos’ nomination as Secretary of Education upset people all over the country, causing them to write and call their senators. Over 5,000 people in Iowa’s third district petitioned Chuch Grassley to vote no on DeVos’ confirmation. While I appreciate people’s dedication to protesting DeVos’ confirmation, their efforts were ultimately misguided as her position will have little impact on the day to day lives of the majority of people. Going forward, people should try to harness the passion they felt about DeVos’ nomination and redirect it to their state legislatures, which are primarily responsible for creating education policy.

During DeVos’ confirmation hearing, the Iowa legislature approved two important educational bills that were widely ignored. Last week, the Iowa government added $40 million to the educational budget. Days later, the Iowa House and Senate approved a bill that would get rid of Iowa’s collective bargaining law, likely leading to lower wages for teachers. Both bills garnered some public attention—there were some protests over the controversial collective bargaining bill, which was heavily debated in the senate and saw several republicans breaking party lines to vote against it. To me, this demonstrates the effectiveness that protests, calls and letters to representatives, and petitions can have on politics.

Although I believe the anger people felt about DeVos’ nomination was justified, and their dedication to protesting her confirmation respectable, she is ultimately not the best outlet for political protest. It’s great that people have shown that they care about improving the educational system; now, if they want to create real change, they need to focus on contacting legislators at the state level.

Graphic by Haylie Book