Local superintendent and parent react to DeVos confirmation

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Tuesday afternoon, Senators confirmed Betsy DeVos as the next Secretary of Education, in a 51-50 vote. This is a very important position, and many critics point to DeVos' lack of education experience.

Her appointment will have an impact on our schools here in the valley. Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker has spent many years serving in, and out of the classroom. Regardless of what happens in Washington, he says the students are the focus.

"My loyalties lie completely and totally with my 10,000 kids here, so if there's something good that comes out of, great ideas, then I'm for it."

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has strong opinions on the public school system, opinions that have people concerned about its future. But, Parker said he's a believer in it.

"I know there are places that have tremendous challenges, not only in the state of Alabama but throughout the nation I know that. But we're blessed in our city, we're very thankful in our city," he said.

Another believer in the public system is parent Susan Higgins, whose children are current students in Huntsville City Schools.

"We as a democracy have an obligation to educate all of our students," she said.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos does not have a record in public education, as an educator, administrator, or elected official. Higgins said she's very concerned about what the future holds because of DeVos' lack of experience.

"I think that the immediate effect will not be good. I think that there will be a big push for charter schools, there will be a big push for things that are her stated goals," said Higgins.

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Parker too said he knows the lack of experience is concerning, but he hopes whatever happens the students remain the priority.

"How can we do better for our kids? Because they've got one shot at it. They've got one shot at fourth grade or fifth grade, or being a senior, whatever it may be," he said.

There is one thing Parker would like to see come out of Washington, and her appointment.

"We absolutely would want as much local control as we could get," he said.

For her part as a parent, Higgins also said she hopes DeVos implements change. Specifically, more funding for public schools, more attention paid to teachers, and a decrease in testing. However, she does have hope.

"I do think that all of the controversy may have generated a renewed focus on education, and a renewed dialogue and debate. So maybe some really good things can come out of it in the end," said Higgins.