Betsy DeVos is set to run the United States Department of Education after the Senate confirmed her appointment earlier this week. Many criticized DeVos’s nomination because she has little experience in public education. She attended a private school, and beyond mentoring in the public schools, she has never attended, taught, or sent children to public schools.
A Christian, (DeVos has attended Rob Bell’s former church Mars Hill) her appointment has raised questions about Christian support for public schools. In short: Can Christians who homeschool or enroll their children in private school still support public schools?
One’s familial education choices don’t affect the extent to which one can support public schools, says Andrea Reyes Ramirez, the executive director of the Faith and Education Coalition for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. (Read Ramirez’s piece offering practical steps from earlier this week.)
“At this point, we know that 90 percent of America’s children are in public schools so I think that as believers we need to engage and think afresh about our personal engagement with strengthening the public schools whether our children are at public schools or not,” she said.
According to Ramirez, Christians who do opt for homeschooling or private schools should be conscientious of potential unintended consequences of their decisions.
“We have to be cautious about being so focused on taking care of our own children that we isolate ourselves from the beautiful, made-in-God’s-image children in our community,” she said. “I think it’s a great discipleship opportunity for the children in our home, to connect the dots and say, ‘We’re thinking about what’s best for our family. We’re praying about how to school you, and in addition, we’re praying about how to make a difference in our community.’”
Ramirez joined assistant editor Morgan Lee and editor-in-chief Mark Galli to discuss why 2017 is such a seminal year for public education, where she stands on the DeVos appointment, and how asking God to help her better use her brain helped her get through stats class.