With the final confirmation vote for Betsy DeVos coming Tuesday, special interest groups have stepped up their rhetoric attacking her for being “unqualified” for the role. Those critics however have a fundamental misunderstanding of Secretary of Education’s ability to know what is best for all 50 million k-12 students. Senior Policy Analyst Eric Peterson has written why this criticism missed the mark.
Even targeted spending designed to address failing schools has been ineffective. A recent evaluation of $7 billion spent by the Obama administration to improve student achievement at these low-performing schools found there was no positive effect.
Viewed from a Hayekian lens, this failure should not be surprising. Top-down policies didn’t fail because previous department heads were unqualified, but because no person or agency has the capacity to know what is best for more than 50 million K-12 students and more than 3 million teachers across our vast country.
This fact has long been known by DeVos. When pressed at the hearing about what her policy or position would be on certain issues, such as firearms in schools, DeVos deferred to the states to make their own decisions on what is best for their students. Even though that position has attracted the typical sneers from the Left, DeVos fundamentally has the correct position. The fact that she is willing to consult others and is able to admit when she isn’t the best person to be making a decision on someone else’s behalf are part of her strength as a nominee, not a sign that she’s unqualified.