What matters is what families and students think about having a change agent in this position. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Since President Trump announced that Betsy DeVos would be his pick for secretary of education, it is impossible for anyone involved in education reform to go outside without being asked, “What do you think of Ms. Devos?” Everyone wants to comment on her qualifications, her philanthropy and her work in education.

But my response when asked about her is that it’s irrelevant what any one person thinks.

What matters is what families and students think about having a change agent in this position. If you judge from the tens of thousands of families on waiting lists for charter schools and for scholarships in private schools it is apparent that poor families are desperate for someone who will fight for them for a change.

Unfortunately, the media has reported on only one side of the DeVos story. All that’s shown on nightly news and in the pages of daily newspapers are masses of teachers, administrators, city councilmen and retirees protesting her appointment with painted signs that are full of vitriol and lies. Just about everyone in the crowd has jobs and pensions at stake or are advocating for control of failing schools which they have not used for their own children.

Not seen are the faces of the millions of families and students who have been the victims of bad education policy. They are not mobilized or represented in the crowds because they aren’t organized by anti-reform forces and unions. All reporters need to do is a quick survey of where the protestors are coming from to realize that their stories are biased and hurtful to millions of poor families who do not want the failing public schools they have been forced to use for decades.

DeVos is not anti-teacher or anti-public schools, but she is opposed to bad teachers and failing schools. No good teacher should fear a secretary of education who believes that only those closest to kids (teachers and parents) should have a say in how they are educated. But those who do feel threatened by policies that would close down failing schools are running out of time to head to the paint store and start making more anti-DeVos signs.

Janine Yass is a former vice chair of the Center for Education Reform’s board of directors. She founded the Boys’ Latin Charter School in West Philadelphia.

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