Betsy DeVos does not understand what it is like to teach in any school let alone poor public schools. She does not understand what the lives of real teachers and students are like.
She does not understand the problems facing many of America’s children. These problems won’t be solved with a voucher. They also won’t be fixed by substandard charter schools run by those who know little about children.
I do not believe she should be barred from public schools. Public schools are supposed to be open to everyone.
I think she should face parents and teachers who disagree with her platform within those schools–not sit and politely talk with those who agree with her at a photo op with President Trump. Neither one of them know anything about public schools.
Betsy DeVos should spend time with the many moms of students with disabilities who homeschool not because they want to, but because schools have cut special education services partly due to the message that Individual Education Plans are less important than Common Core State Standards.
This is a post I wrote about Bill and Melinda Gates, but it is just as significant for Betsy DeVos or any other billionaire who thinks they understand school reform and the problems found in our public schools. I changed the words a bit.
Here’s what’s hard. I have added a few new points:
- Watching your school district throw money at unproven technology when basic needs are your students not met.
- Being dismissed as a teacher, when you are the only professional in the room who understands children and how they learn.
- Being dismissed as a parent, when you understand your child best.
- Being an over tested kindergartner, not getting any recess, and being made to feel you are a failure before you get started in your schooling.
- Coming to school hungry and/or sick, or having an untreated toothache.
- Sending your child to a school that has no school nurse.
- Working on a day-to-day basis with students who come from abject poverty, who face all the terrible problems that come with that.
- Not having a home.
- Being a child with disabilities and being afraid of a high-stakes test (or several) you don’t understand and feeling like a failure!
- Having such a large class with so many diverse students you know it will be difficult to teach.
- Not having enough resources and materials to teach effectively.
- Being a parent of a child with disabilities and fearing the loss of school services.
- Being made to read before you are ready by the controversial close reading that might make you hate reading!
- Having a difficult time learning to read and getting little help in school for such difficulties.
- Being five and carrying the weight of the economy on your back.
- Failing third grade based on one test. DeVos should step away from Jeb Bush and talk to Florida parents who are sick of the reforms there–including retention.
- Being a high school student who has to focus on test-taking and not given ample time to explore real career options.
- Being poor and working only in math and reading with little opportunity to participate in music or art classes.
- Not having access to a whole curriculum.
- Being in high school and having little hope for job after graduation.
- Deciding if you can afford to leave teaching because you hate the changes that negatively impact children, including high-stakes testing, Common Core, PARCC, Smarter Balance etc.
- Knowing you have to teach to pay the bills but understanding why parents dislike you for being forced to implement harsh reforms.
- Being told you will have to reapply for the job you need, the career you hold dear, which helps you to feed your family, because your school has been changed to a charter school.
- Being a high school student, who wants to be a real career teacher, but can’t find a quality College of Education program because so many of them have been corrupted.
- Working with overcrowded class sizes because some reformer doesn’t know better and thinks class size doesn’t matter. That person should read the Tennessee STAR Study.
- Being pushed to teach small children about Mesopotamia which you know is developmentally inappropriate.
- Not being able to get to all your students because your paraprofessional has been let go. Knowing you might be on your way out of your job teaching too.
- Not being paid for a Master’s Degree that you spent time and money on to better yourself professionally.
- Needing to take antibiotics because you aren’t able to pee when you need to because your paraprofessional has been let go.
- Working in a crummy school building while a brand new charter school is built down the street.
- Getting judged for your teaching by someone else’s test results.
- Filling out mounds of time-consuming paperwork to keep your school afloat.
- Being forced to focus more on data instead of children.
- Being ignored as a teacher, even pushed out of your job, by a principal from Teach for America or New Leaders.
- Going on a hunger strike for 34 days to save the public school you love.
- Continuously hearing how you fail as a teacher when you’re the only one doing the heavy lifting.
- Having your local school board ignore your pleas to keep your public school open.
- Watching your young students fail the tests because they can’t type on the computer fast enough.
- Knowing how much time you spent learning to be a teacher and watching fast-trackers online course takers take over.
- Being forced to put away your developmentally appropriate student play kitchens, puppets and costumes in kindergarten.
- Working in a school or being a parent who recognizes there is no librarian or media specialist.
- Not having enough guidance counselors to work with you when your student has mental health issues.
- Not having any special education services to offer parents who want them.
- Watching Colleges of Education die when you know they could have been improved.
- Being a student in one of those Uncommon charter schools and knowing if you blink when you are supposed to stare (SLANT) means you will be punished.
- Knowing your democratic public schools are being stolen so others can make a profit and there is little you can do to stop this.
- Learning to speak and understand English should be a joyful event for ELL children, but instead they are pushed to learn quickly in remedial classes forfeiting better experiences for language acquisition.
I could go on with this list. A lot of children and their teachers are being mistreated in a country that should honor both.
I do not understand why America would let a rich individual take over the public schools that should be owned by the people.
So at least I can make this request of Betsy DeVos. Learn about the school issues you are now responsible for, and see what it is really like to face hardship in school.
America and God are grading you now.