Betsy DeVos and any corporate reformer who impacts school policy should be required to spend at least a month each year teaching in a public school classroom.
DeVos just attended Gov. Jeb Bush’s ExcelinEd meeting in Nashville. Let Jeb Bush and his corporate friends and politicians who drive corporate reform also teach for a month.
None of these individuals understand the problems they have created in the classroom. If they taught a class for a month they would see firsthand what they have done.
Instead, DeVos sees teachers as the enemy. They don’t like her either. For weeks social media was thrilled to hear a rumor that DeVos was stepping down.
Last week in Nashville DeVos called teachers “defenders of the status quo” and she noted that “she is just getting settled into her post as President Donald Trump’s education secretary.”
But business has been in charge of public schools for years. The status quo of which DeVos refers is what she and her family and the other corporate education reformers have created in our schools.
For example, consider what it’s like to teach in some Nashville high schools, near where the ExcelinEd meeting took place. My guess is there are similar classroom difficulties across the country.
It is the status quo that:
- keeps some Tennessee teachers working in the classroom for years without a contract.
- that discourages control of class size and gives high school teachers upwards of 200 students.
- does not address the problem of students who bully others and their teachers.
- requires teachers to act like substitute teachers when their colleagues are absent and the school district has trouble finding substitute teachers.
So when DeVos says that the notion of public education must shift toward a system that benefits every student. She really has no clue of the problems facing teachers in their public schools.
When Bob Graham was Governor of Florida he took time to work in jobs to show he understood how workers were treated. He taught school too.
I wrote a post about this several years ago.
Early in 1974, Florida’s Gov. Bob Graham impressed many when he spent time working, a full eight hour day in different jobs. He experienced first-hand the hard work and problems found in those work positions. His jobs included service as a police officer, park ranger, iron worker, bus boy, railroad engineer, construction worker, fisherman, garbage collector, and teacher.
In an alternative world, the education secretary would understand the problems teachers face. She would attempt to correct them. This would mean something more to her if she had ever been a teacher and experienced the challenges teachers face in a real public school.
Instead of pitting herself against real teachers, she would say, “I am here to support you. My job is to find ways to help you in the classroom so students are able to learn.”
Can you imagine what this would do for teacher morale and the students they teach?
Instead, DeVos creates an atmosphere of rivalry towards teachers. This is the way to get rid of teachers altogether.
DeVos has never taught. She has never studied children and their development, or earned a degree as a teacher. She mostly works with her corporate friends to end public schools. It also serves her and her choice agenda to be critical of teachers.
While she does this, teachers struggle to keep the last democratic institution alive in America.
So, make her teach. Start with high school and work down to kindergarten. Let her see upfront what conditions teachers face and how they are treated.
This would be a good idea for Gov. Jeb Bush, Bill Gates, and all those other corporate school reformers who understand little about how schools really work, or the difficulties their haphazard reforms have created.
These individuals should have to show that they understand what schools are about before taxpayers are forced to pay for the implementation of their bad ideas.