There are so many things that I wanted to say and to write about over the last few months but my words and thoughts keep getting mixed up and I feel completely overwhelmed all the time. There is much that I don’t trust or understand about the incoming administration. While I feel fairly confident that many of the cabinet nominees are simply wrong and/or unqualified for their proposed job, there aren’t many that I can speak to personally so I have kept (relatively) quiet.
Education though is an area that I understand. I worked as a speech therapist and reading specialist in public and private schools. I worked in urban and suburban areas. I wrote and implemented Individual Education Plans for students receiving special education. I worked in an underperforming school when No Child Left Behind was first implemented. I have two girls currently in public schools. I have served as our home school administration president at both our elementary and our middle school which has given me the unique opportunity to get to know the administration and staff in both schools in a different way than I had as a teacher or as a parent.
All this is prelude to the fact that the nomination of Betsy DeVos has terrified me from the start. Before yesterday, I knew that DeVos never attended public schools. I knew that her children never attended public schools. I knew that no one in her family required student loans to go to college. I knew that she was not an educator. I knew that she had never taught in or worked in a public school. I knew that she was pro-charter schools and school choice. I knew that she brought this reform to the Detroit schools and I knew the Detroit schools were not turned around as a result of this reform. I knew that if you like the idea of charter schools and vouchers there are people who have implemented these reforms with far greater success than Betsy DeVos.
What I did not know until yesterday was how limited DeVos’ knowledge is about pressing issues in the world of public education. In today’s age of the Common Core and mandated testing, she could not intelligently respond to questions regarding growth vs. proficiency. She appeared unfamiliar with the basic tenants of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act that is in place to insure appropriate education for our students requiring special education. She repeatedly stated that decisions would be turned back to the state. At one point, she was asked if students receiving special education services were unsatisfied by the services they were receiving in their state if they should perhaps, move to a state with a more robust special education services. She shrugged her shoulders as if maybe that was a good idea. I wonder if she knows the costs and implications of moving a family with special needs to another state? Her response did not imply that she did.
And these thoughts are only the beginning of what concerned me about Betsy DeVos’ statements. Please don’t get me started on guns and grizzly bears and the fact that her response to a question about guns in schools was addressed to a man who has represented the families of Sandy Hook.
I am not sure what I hope to accomplish by writing out my reactions to Besty DeVos’ nomination. All I know is that reading and writing make me feel better sometimes so I thought perhaps it was time to get my thoughts out of my head and on to the screen…