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Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is a long-time Republican donor. DeVos is an advocate of charter schools, school voucher programs, and tax credits for businesses that give private scholarships.
Her likely appointment excites many in Michigan’s charter schools.
But not everyone.
Tashaune Harden is a science teacher at Detroit's César Chávez Academy. She's a vice president of the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, and she’s taught in charters her entire career. Still, she’s not a supporter of DeVos or her policies. In her article on Medium, Harden called the nomination a “personal affront.”
To Harden, DeVos’s confirmation as Secretary as Education would continue a troubling trend of abrupt school closures and lack of oversight in Michigan’s for-profit charters. For-profits, Harden said, are “prioritizing money over students.”
In the Spring of 2016, Harden and others worked on bipartisan legislation to regulate these schools. They hoped to create a Detroit oversight committee that would be able to recommend closures of failing charters in the city, and prevent companies that failed from opening new charters. According to Harden, DeVos used her financial influence to kill that legislation.
For Harden, “just looking on the track record of education in Michigan, I do not believe that it would be a good fit” for DeVos to serve in a cabinet position. Still, Harden will continue to teach.
“We’re still going to go into the classroom and do what we need to do, because we know what’s best for students,” she says.
Hear more from Tashaune Harden, including what question she wishes she could ask Betsy DeVos during her confirmation hearing, in our full-length interview.