I was distressed to read our former first lady, Barbara Bush, repeat some of the misleading characterizations about Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education (“Barbara Bush: Betsy DeVos the right women for education secretary,” Jan. 13).

When we use a word like “advocate,” it colors certain actions. DeVos can be called an advocate for many facets of education, but it is demeaning to others to cite her as an “advocate for children,” suggesting that those who disagree with her approaches are not. She has been an advocate for vouchers. She has been an advocate for for-profit charter schools despite their mixed, and generally dismal, records. She has been an advocate for tax cuts that would have significantly affected schools. None of those things are illegal, but they are not necessarily in the interests of children.

I spent 30-some years of my life working in schools — four in a private prep school, but all the rest in a public middle school, a public high school, and three public colleges. Every system can benefit from tweaking. But DeVos is an advocate for “retiring public schools” (those are her words). She is a member of another family wealthy enough not to need the public system, and she hasn’t used it, but the vast majority of students in Maine are not in that situation. Our communities and our students and their families count on the schools. In Lewiston, where I spent 25 years, most of our students even count on our schools for food.

In this matter, as in others, our senators are called upon to “advise and consent” — but that has never meant they must consent. I hope your readers will contact Sens. Susan Collins and Anugs King and ask them to insist on a nominee with a record of support for public education.

Jim Perkins


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.