Betsy DeVos’ vision of her private evangelical school, Potter’s House.
The Potter’s House is a top tier school situated in Grand Rapids, Michigan. However, applicants not only require a well drafted resume and amazing references for admission, but also have to sign a statement of faith as part of their application.
This religious section of the application explains, “We believe that the world was perfect at creation, but sin intervened, severing all people’s perfect relationship with God and bringing consequences on every object and institution within the creation.”
This non-denominational school educates its students on evolution as well as creationism. According to the school, it extends an effort towards all social classes and races. In line with these beliefs, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos expresses that The Potter’s House is the type of school the education system needs to fend off inequality.
For years, DeVos has been actively involved in the school’s functioning. She has served as a donor, board member and volunteered to the school. In the media, she has said this academic institution has given “kids the chance to succeed and thrive.” Betsy has also mentioned the school by name, stating it gave her inspiration to champion for better education opportunities for American citizens.
DeVos’ appointment seems to be an encouraging move from the Trump administration. This is because she has expressed the will to help children have an easier time in joining schools such as The Potter’s House. President Trump has set aside $250 million for the establishment of a “new private school choice program.” In a statement to the press, the education secretary said the program would place “power in the hands of parents and families to choose schools that are best for their children.”
Despite these positive prospects, statements have been made concerning DeVos’ commitment to religious education. Critics have said the move to style schools in a manner in line with Potter House’s would narrow the borderline between the church and the nation. Additionally, traditional ethos in the public school system would continuously be eroded. Delving deeper into the workings of The Potter’s House further raises eyebrows towards these concerns.
The school’s education system caters towards students between pre-kindergarten to the twelfth grade. Students within these years are educated around the theme of Jesus Christ and God. Parents of the students are required to sign a “philosophy statement agreement.” Part of this document states, “Since God is the center of reality, the Bible will be taught as having significance in all areas of life.” The school requires all students to take Bible classes, participate in morning prayers and dress according to standards set in the school’s handbook.
— Sedgrid Lewis (@Spyparent) March 29, 2017
Pastor Reggie Smith, whose three daughters have been through the institution, says he has no problem with the school’s religious approach towards academics. He explained, “As far as I know going back, they presented the creation story, but also talked about how evolution was another theory in how people thought about the world and how they thought the world was created. It was pretty balanced to me, even though they were coming from a Christian perspective.”
Betsy DeVos’ contributions to The Potter’s House run from as early as 2003, according to tax records. It appears her vision for equality has this private school treading a less traditional path for other schools of its caliber. Based in a predominantly Latino region, the school is racially diverse. Additionally, members of the administration do not pressure students to take part in religious-based co-curricular activities.
The school’s superintendent, John Booy, has made positive statements concerning DeVos’ appointment. He has said she is always “thinking about what is the best way to educate kids in the 21st century.”
- Huffington Post
- Rolling Stone
- The Potter House -Teacher Employment Application
- The Potter House -Philosophy Statement Agreement