GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – President Donald Trump’s pick of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary was one of the most controversial.
After narrowly being confirmed Tuesday, many schools officials continue to speak out against her.
“As teachers we’re required to be highly qualified for our jobs and we feel that Betsy DeVos is not highly qualified,” said Jennie Bryan, a veteran Pitt County teacher.
Bryan, along with other members of the National Education Association, flooded Congress with 1 million emails and more than 80,000 calls.
She feels after all of that, they were ignored.
“As a Social Studies teacher, why do I spend my time encouraging my students to speak out and participate in democracy and engage if their voices are not going to be heard,” she said.
Bryan was particularly critical of North Carolina Republican Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, both of whom received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the DeVos family.
Following the confirmation, Sen. Burr released a statement saying, “Betsy DeVos has dedicated her life to improving education, so I am glad she will continue to fight for all children as Secretary of Education. Attempts by Senate Democrats to stall the President’s nominees only distract from the very real struggles of North Carolina’s families seeking the best education for their children.”
One of the biggest concerns with DeVos is her support of school choice and the growth of charter schools.
Each time a student leaves a county school to attend a charter, local funds attached to the student exits too.
Pitt County Schools estimate they will lose $1,626,965 in local funds to charter schools. To compare, that number was just at $500,000 two years ago.
Craven County Schools lost $306,665 last year to charter schools.
But some charter school officials said it should be the parents right to decide which school their child attends.
“That money that is allocated by the county commissioners is the tax dollars that the parents of those students paid, and parents should ultimately have the choice,” said Matthew Lococo, principal of Ignite Innovation Charter school in Greenville.
Lococo said charters are often misunderstood, with many people not realizing they must abide by many of the same rules, and all of the same testing standards, as regular schools.
Lococo said he believes DeVos could clear up some misconceptions.
“I think she will be able to influence some of the policy making when it comes to charter schools,” he said. “She’s dedicated her life for school choice.”
Other county teachers are critical of charters, mainly because they see them as a way to make money off of children. Lauren Piner, President of the Pitt County Association of Educators, said she is particularly concerned with for-profit charters.
She said she wanted charter schools to be held to the same standard as county schools when it came to things like providing transportation and lunch. Without that, low income students would likely not be able to attend charters.
“There’s a vast difference in the students who go to many charter schools versus the students who go to public schools,” Piner said.