What if Devos’ Appointment is Based on Patronage and NOT Ideology?
Jason Silverstein’s article in today’s New York Daily News describes the two incidents at the Department of Education since Betsy DeVos took over early last week: the removal of the section of the web page that provides details on the laws regarding the federal disabilities act and the misspellings in two tweets issued during Black History month. There are two possible explanation for these errors; incompetence or ideology.
It is possible that these errors are a reflection on Ms. DeVos ability to lead a large and complicated federal agency and/or her political tone-deafness. It seems to me that anyone with political savvy would bend over backwards to demonstrate to parents of children who benefit from the provisions of the federal disabilities act that her inability to answer questions about that act are not an indication of her indifference to their children or an indifference on the part of the department. And the misspelling of civil rights leader “W.E.B. Du Bois” and the subsequent tweet that read “our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo” will certainly not win support among the African American community leaders who are rightfully suspicious of her commitment to their children.
It is also possible that the errors are a reflection on Ms. DeVos ideology. Maybe her response to questions about providing services to special needs children are an indication of what she really believes: she WANTS these services to become the responsibility of States. And maybe her misspelling and clumsily worded apology exemplify her antipathy toward the whole notion black history.
The media have characterized Mr. Trump’s appointments, particularly Ms. DeVos’, as being based on ideology. But it’s just as likely that her appointment is an example of Donald Trump’s spoils system whereby he is offering cabinet posts and other high profile positions to mega donors to the Republican party. It has not been unusual for this practice to occur in previous administrations (the phrase “Heckuva job, Brownie” come to mind), but when an appointment puts the education of an entire generation at peril it’s time for the party participating in such a practice to correct itself.