What Should the US Department of Education Prioritize in 2018?


By Andrew Pillow

The United States Department of Education, under the direction of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, has not won many new fans in 2017. What can they do to change that in 2018?

I’m not totally convinced the Department of Education cares about how many fans they have, or public perception of the job they are doing. Betsy DeVos, has a historically low approval rating, not too unlike her nominator, President Trump. That is unlikely to change overnight, but there are some things she and the Department of ED can do to make a lot of people happy in 2018 if that is their choice.

What the Department of Education should do in 2018:

1.       Betsy DeVos can’t be as polarizing

Betsy DeVos is the face of the Department of Education. Whether it is fair or not, what she does, or doesn’t do reflects on the whole department. It’s well documented that DeVos wasn’t an expert when she was appointed to her position. Some of the statements she said following her appointment revealed that fact. When DeVos appears incompetent, it hurts any agenda she has, even in cases where the agenda isn’t that bad.

DeVos needs to become less of an issue before the Department of ED can advance any goals.

2.       Bridge the gap between the school choice and traditional public factions

As long as school choice remains a partisan issue… children will lose. Because of statements by conservatives and DeVos herself, many liberals and traditional public-school advocates regard the department of education as “anti-public”. This has led to unnecessary push-back against school choice efforts all around the country in the name of “resisting” Trump.

There are plenty of things liberals should be resisting, but options for children isn’t one of them. If the Department of Education is going to convince them of that, they will need to change their competitive rhetoric and work together. That is the only way to bridge the two sides.

3.       Come up with a plan for college tuition

Tuition prices are skyrocketing. Student loans and debt are at an all-time high. This is not just a problem for college students. It is a long term systemic risk to the entire educational system and United States workforce. It simply HAS to be dealt with.

I don’t know what this looks like. Maybe it’s Bernie’s free college plan. Maybe it’s a better more forgiving loan system. Maybe it’s the government cracking down on predatory schools and diploma mills. I really don’t know. What we do know is that more of the same equals more debt, or more students unable to achieve the “American dream.”

I highly doubt DeVos will read this; however, these suggestions are situations that not only need to be dealt with, they would also raise the profile and opinion of the much-beleaguered Department of Education. If they care about public opinion, they should handle these issues.


Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.