New education secretary worries some UMN educators, students

Devos’ plan for teacher training concerns some at the University.

Students resume their day outside Anderson Hall on West Bank Monday late afternoon

Daily File Photo

Students resume their day outside Anderson Hall on West Bank Monday late afternoon

Cindy Simba

After a controversial appointment, some education experts at the University of Minnesota are worried that new education secretary Betsy Devos could negatively impact future teachers’ training.

Devos has advocated for non-conventional practices in teacher training, and her potential policies could affect how teacher-training curriculum is presented at the College of Education and Human Development.

Cynthia Lewis, chair of the curriculum and instruction department, said Devos’ advocacy for alternative teacher training might “de-professionalize teachers.”

Lewis said the alternative training requires less education than what is currently required.

Students hoping to be educators have also expressed concerns.

“I’m just a little worried about finding a job when I graduate, because I don’t know how she’s going to change things,” said Mai Chia Lee, an elementary education senior.

Devos has expressed support for opening new pathways into higher education for more students. She said she supports trade schools as a way for people to prepare for the workforce.

While some critics are worried the Devos era could harm education, some policy specialists are confident in the checks and balances system.

“There’s a balance of state and federal control, [of higher education policies],” said Laura Bloomberg, associate dean at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Bloomberg said state governments have more control over state universities than the federal government, adding that Devos doesn’t have any experience in public education.

“[Devos] has admitted she has a lot of learning to do,” Bloomberg said.