Heavens to Betsy

If one thing can unite the country in the midst of a pandemic, racial reckoning, and a presidential election, it’s that Betsy DeVos should not be in charge of the Department of Education.

Most teachers do not believe Betsy DeVos is qualified to hold the position and want her gone. As an educator, I can attest to this. However, it is not because all teachers are pinkos or hate the President. Although, it is no secret that the education world skews left. There are many fellow conservatives in educators that hold this view.

It comes down to this: if you have not set foot in a public school classroom or sat behind the teacher’s desk, you simply should not be dictating policy – especially in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that has decimated student growth and equity gaps in this country.

Betsy DeVos is a former GOP fundraiser, activist, investor, and Broadway play producer. Notice how the position of teacher is not on her extensive resume. She has long pushed for school choice and championing alternatives to public school, even during this time.

Now, she is in charge of overseeing education and educators in this country; more specifically, public school, something she seems to have fought against her whole life. Maybe this is why with ease she is threatening to pull federal funding from schools who do not participate in five-days-a-week in-person learning.

Public school should be a non-partisan issue. Public education is vital to our success as a nation. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “It is highly interesting to our country, and it is the duty of its functionaries, to provide that every citizen in it should receive an education proportioned to the condition and pursuits of his life.”

Not everyone can afford private school. Unfortunately, the GOP has allowed this elite-minded investor class to take hold in the party, and push school choice, a policy that racially segregates, creates more of a wealth gap, and contributes to the downfall of local communities. After pressuring the President, that investor class is running the department that is vital to the future of our children.

“Kids need to be back in school and that school leaders across the country need to be making plans to do just that,” Mrs. DeVos reiterated on the Sunday shows this week. Mrs. DeVos is right. But it would be great if there was leadership or a federal plan from our Department of Education on how this can happen.

Teachers understand this reality. Children right now are losing growth. Some children are trapped with their abuser. Parents right now might still be out of work.

This gap in learning will affect our children for years to come, especially our students in the EL population and our students with special needs. These students require hands-on learning. But how can you do small-group instruction with social distancing? Who monitors recess? What happens when a teacher gets sick? Or a child comes to school sick? What happens to our PE teachers?

These questions need answers and a federal plan needs to be put in place – NOW!

Several schools are leaning towards the hybrid option: half distance learning and half in-school learning. This right now seems to be the only way forward. Yes, our economy needs to be up and running. Yes, children need to learn. Both are key to the engine of this nation. But no one should have to get sick or die in this process.

Crucial funding to our communities should not be weaponized. Defunding our schools is just as wrong and foolhardy as defunding the police.
The Republicans want to open the economy, full fledged – damn the torpedoes. The Democrats want to sacrifice the Economy and jobs and want schools closed to make sure Trump loses.

Enough with the petty, partisan fighting when lives and our country’s survival is on the line. We need to be one nation. Let’s go safely into this fight for the future of our children.

Let’s act to put measures in place so teachers can teach in comfort, and students can learn without fear.

Let’s rely on the experience of those who actually know the day to day struggles of the classroom.

More importantly, let’s be united on this issue. We cannot afford any more division in this nation at this very fragile time.

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