Betsy DeVos is now our education secretary. It is hard to believe that someone who has no ties to public education, besides being a big donor to the charter school movement, is now the head of the United States' 98,454 public schools. It's a sad day for America's public school system because the Republican Senators who voted for her, have effectively delegitmized our profession yet again. They don't believe educators should be led by experts in our own field. They don't believe we have a body of knowledge that requires you to know how to teach in order to lead. They don't believe teachers are professionals. It is akin to me becoming an oncologist because, hey, I donate to Cycle for Survival, a nation-wide fundraising event for rare cancers, and I'm a loud voice for treatments for cancer, so I can be an oncologist. It is a danger and an insult to oncology if I, inexperienced in medicine, were to treat patients just as it is a danger and an insult to education that Betsy DeVos, inexperienced in the issues of public education, is now our education secretary. Unfortunately, in the latter case, it actually happened.
Where was the governing body that was supposed to prevent this? Two senators, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), were the only Republicans who came to their conscience--albeit because of pressure from their constituents--and voted against their party line. If anything, DeVos' confirmation galvanizes me to urge my fellow educators, many of whom have children in the public education system, to run for office and for local school boards. We need your expertise in knowing how high performing schools are teaching students and supporting teachers. We need your guidance on how to protect the rights of special needs students and English Language Learners to ensure they have access to differentiated instruction. More importantly, we need you to be an advocate for all kinds of children--poor kids, homeless kids, gifted and talented kids, illegal immigrants, students with special needs, students who identify as LGBTQ, and many more. The policy decisions that affect our children can only be led effectively by people who know what happens inside a well performing classroom, school, and community.
Educators need to have a voice in how our education is run in our country. We should not just be consultants; we need to be at the forefront of making policy decisions.
The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and do not reflect those of institutions, organizations, or employers associated with me, past or present.