Sirico: Betsy DeVos confirmation best choice for education crisis
Religion & Liberty Online

Sirico: Betsy DeVos confirmation best choice for education crisis

The Senate today narrowly voted for a change in the status quo, and that is an answer to the prayers of millions of parents who have witnessed a steady plummet of their respective children’s test scores over the past few decades. Something, anything, someone had to happen to alter the downward trajectory of education of our nation’s youth.

That someone is Betsy DeVos.

Full disclosure: Betsy DeVos is a former board member of the Acton Institute. She and her family also have been loyal philanthropists for the Grand Rapids, Mich., area of which Acton faithfully belongs. That written, it must be added that Acton’s relationship with the DeVos family and Betsy specifically and personally shows the passion and intellect that she brings to bear on those issues upon which she has been focused for decades. Among those issues is school choice so direly needed for students forced to suffer the failures rampant in our public schools.

The hue and cry from Betsy DeVos’ detractors has been, frankly, disingenuous. She has shown time and again her mastery of intricate details of the many problems facing our country, and now has an opportunity to reverse the unfortunate circumstances facing many of our nation’s public schools.

Prior to and in the relatively few years since the formation of the Secretary of Education as a Cabinet position, parents have bemoaned the poor returns of the substantial investments made by taxpayers in the education of their children. Children, in turn, have been turned out from our schools in droves poorly prepared for careers or advanced education opportunities.

The confirmation of Betsy DeVos has served notice to the public school monopoly that accountability and competition are demanded by parents and students too often on the short-end of a multi-billion dollar industry that consistently provides lackluster results. We at Acton wish Betsy DeVos God’s blessings in her new position. She is precisely the leader that the Department of Education and our nation requires. We should all offer prayers for her and our nation for a fruitful tenure.

Rev. Robert Sirico

Rev. Robert A. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America, following undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London. During his studies and early ministry, he experienced a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today's social problems. As a result of these concerns, Fr. Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute with Kris Alan Mauren in 1990. As president of the Acton Institute, Fr. Sirico lectures at colleges, universities, and business organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad. His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review. Fr. Sirico is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNN, ABC, the BBC, NPR, and CBS' 60 Minutes, among others. In April of 1999, Fr. Sirico was awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian Ethics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and in May of 2001, Universidad Francisco Marroquin awarded him an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences. He is a member of the prestigious Mont Pèlerin Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Philadelphia Society, and is on the Board of Advisors of the Civic Institute in Prague. Father Sirico also served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1994 to 1998. He is also currently serving on the pastoral staff of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fr. Sirico's pastoral ministry has included a chaplaincy to AIDS patients at the National Institute of Health and the recent founding of a new community, St. Philip Neri House in Grand Rapids, Michigan.