Most of the commentary surrounding Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s “60 Minutes” interview focused on her shocking level of incompetence for the job she holds, including Dana Milbank’s March 13 Washington Sketch column, “The underappreciated genius of making DeVos top educator.” But equally troubling is her lack of a coherent ideology, as demonstrated by this line: “Well, we should be funding and investing in students, not in school — school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems.” Her critique of institutions is the most ironically anti-conservative statement she could have made. It smacks of New Left thinking and thinkers such as Bill Ayers, who cautioned young people not to be “driven by a structure of ideas.” I assume Mr. Ayers would consider conservatism to be a “structure of ideas,” although it is unclear exactly what ideas that movement represents in 2018.
Robert Putnam argues that the loss of our institutions is to blame for our current levels of social decline, a finding every true conservative should champion. Yet, an ostensibly conservative (pro-order) education secretary (pro-institution) overseeing our nations’ school system (pro-schools, including school buildings) wants us to believe that we can somehow support students without the structures and institutions that enable that support.
Sadly, understanding the irony of her position requires critical thinking skills, which are hard to come by these days given how much we have failed our nation academically.
Will Samson, Manassas Park