Betsy DeVos & the Future of Education

The videos and memes have made their way around the internet and more people are tracking with the scary reality that Betsy DeVos might be our next Secretary of Education.

I watched the hearing. Albeit far from perfect, I mourned for our public education system. I watched live, and followed alongside dozens of friends and colleagues in the field, all spread across various forms of education (PreK-12, public, private, independent, higher education, student affairs, and more). We mourned together. We addressed concerns as she left the committee with hours of minimal and uninformed answers. We feared for the teachers and administrators, and all that might exist ahead.

We considered the children who will be left behind, and those who have been consistently left behind, again and again. This hearing was more than just grizzly bears as a reason to allow guns in schools. This was more than the difference between proficiency and growth. This hearing reflected the unsettling reminder that education continues to be an afterthought for many. The decision to confirm or not confirm Betsy DeVos is a reminder that many view education as non-essential, as a place where we can take risks, and as a “one size fits all” structure that can be addressed with a magic wand.

It’s more complex than a quick fix.

And the issues within are complicated.

Unfortunately, it seems few are paying attention.

We have to pay attention.

I posted an article from The Washington Post shorty after the hearing, and was surprised by the amount of teachers who reached out to me, including some from rural places across the midwest and in Oklahoma (where I am from). If you didn’t catch the hearing, please go back and listen to the questions, the answers, the non-answers, and the way in which education was de/valued among our elected leaders.

If you didn’t watch the hearing, go back and watch the entire thing (it’s just over 3 hours) – we are all impacted by what happens as a result of who takes this position.

And I say all of this as someone who believes in both public and private (independent) education, someone who went to public school my entire life (some schools were better than others), and someone who has committed their life to educating human beings – from PreK-12 to higher education, and beyond.

As a colleague posted on Facebook this week, “Don’t email. Don’t tweet. Don’t complain on Facebook. Call [your Senator]! If you have already called – encourage some friends [to call]!” The vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education has been moved to January 31st. She has no experience with school leadership, teaching, or public education (which is a giant part of the gig). Our Senators have the ability to stop this confirmation by voting ‘No’ on her nomination – the nomination of someone who would not uphold civil rights for students with disabilities; the nomination of someone who would support guns in schools/school zones; the nomination of someone who made dangerous assumptions that every student has parents connected to them, involved as part of their education journey/decision-making process.

This is all problematic.

I care deeply about the status of our education systems. I care deeply about bettering these systems in order to truly support every student. Under a Betsy DeVos administration, I do not believe every student is supported, advocated for, and taken care of – especially those who are already left behind. We have to be better than this.

Concerned, frustrated, unsettled, mobilizing,

Michael

imrs.php.jpeg*photo by The Washington Post

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