What follows is a letter I recently wrote to my senators, Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, regarding the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I'm sharing it because I've heard from other teachers that they also have concerns about this appointment. I hope all of us make our voices heard and ensure our senators know where we stand on this apopintment.
I'll also add here that I've been in touch with both Senator Bennet and Senator Gardner's offices OFTEN lately, and both staffs deserve some serious shout-outs. Everyone I've talked to has been nothing but respectful, kind, and open to my thoughts. For all the staffers who've answers my calls: thanks for respecting my voice whether you agree with me or not.
Dear Mr. Bennet and Mr. Gardner:
I hope you are both well. I am a teacher in southern Colorado, and I am writing to ask that you oppose the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.
I have worked as a teacher and administrator in various charter and traditional public schools for over a decade. I’ve watched as politician after politician has attempted to create a “one size fits all” solution which would magically correct all the failings of America’s public school system. I have watched while corporations and individuals have made billions of dollars on the back of various educational reforms. And now I watch as a woman with no experience in teaching, school administration, or educational policy—a woman who herself attended private schools—is gifted the job of Secretary of Education.
Sirs, if there is one thing teachers in this state and country are tired of, it’s being told what to do by individuals who have never spent a day in front of a classroom. Everyone in America seems to have an opinion as to how our schools should be fixed, and most of those people will never actually teach a lesson. Thats fine. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and I enjoy hearing these opinions during workout classes and over holiday dinners. That does not mean I believe anyone with an opinion should be eligible to run the Department of Education. Please, put this appointment in any other context. Would you allow someone who has never been to medical school to become the Chief of Surgery in a hospital? Would you encourage someone who never attended law school or passed the bar to suddenly take a spot on the Supreme Court?
The appointment of Mrs. DeVos is an insult to every trained educator in this country. There is no nicer way to say it. For every single one of us who put time and effort into actually studying educational pedagogy or policy, for every single one of us who has spent years in front of classrooms perfecting our practices and continually improving them, this appointment is simply more proof that our time and expertise is not valued. Why bother to get an advanced degree in education? Why bother to do the work of actually teaching children? You can become the Secretary of Education of America just by being a billionaire with an opinion!
Our students deserve better. They deserve a Secretary of Education who has worked in schools and studied things such as the complexities of brain development and how poverty affects education. They deserve someone who has done more for American education than simply have opinions and put money behind them.
I ask that you both firmly oppose the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I ask that you demand, for the students and teachers of Colorado, a candidate who is qualified to do this work and truly understands the myriad problems facing our public school system.
Thank you for your time,