by: Maggie Olson
As Trump is sworn in on Friday, January 20, his future Cabinet has been undergoing Senate confirmation hearings throughout the week.
Six of Obama’s Cabinet members refused their salary due to their own wealth. Trump’s cabinet is set to be one of the wealthiest cabinets in history, with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion by Forbes.
Among the contentious hearings, Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos was trending because of her misunderstanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Senator Maggie Hassan questioned her on the topic, and she admitted to not understanding the question.
“So were you unaware what I just asked you about the IDEA? That it was a federal law?” Hassan said.
“I may have confused it,” said DeVos.
DeVos advocates for multiple types of schools: magnet, charter, public, and private. “If a school is troubled, or unsafe, or not a good fit for a child, I support a parent’s right to enroll their child in a high quality alternative,” said DeVos in her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Senator Tim Kaine’s questions to DeVos focused on whether she would hold all schools accountable to the same standards. However, she continually answered with, “I think they should be held accountable.” She refused to fully answer the statement. The C-SPAN video of Senator Tim Kaine’s questions has been shared nearly 40,000 on Twitter
DeVos has not sent her children to public school, nor has she herself attended public school. Since 90 percent of children attend public school, the education secretary should be informed and experienced in how these schools are run and can be improved. She has also funded private and charter schools for several years with her own philanthropy.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma is Trump’s pick for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. However, General Pruitt, has eight ongoing cases with the EPA with his job in Oklahoma. He has sued the EPA 14 times to diminish regulations on clean air and water. Pruitt has been previously noted as a climate change denier, but during his hearing he stated that climate change is not a hoax, going against Donald Trump’s claims.
“I dread the responsibility that my generation will have of cleaning up the damage created by a cabinet of billionaires woefully unqualified for their positions,” said concerned junior Drew Freshour. “I fear for the future with an EPA head who doesn’t have enough respect for the damage humans can and will do to the environment that we all share. We can’t afford four years more of pollution, toxic emissions and degradation of our land.”
I question the ability of Trump’s nominees, especially DeVos and Pruitt, to lead our country effectively. If Trump plans to fulfill his promises on ensuring American prosperity, his cabinet members should be knowledgeable and qualified to fill the positions. DeVos’ religious ties to private schools and Pruitt’s ongoing court suits create conflicts of interests that should not be ignored.