What To Expect For Our Education System, From The Perspective Of 5 Educators
Politics and Activism

What To Expect For Our Education System, From The Perspective Of 5 Educators

5 educators from different backgrounds share their views on Betsy DeVos, education policy, and what's next for the American education system.

Reuters/ Jonathan Ernst

On Tuesday, February 7, 2017 Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the next United States Secretary of Education.

As a billionaire donor with no previous experience in public education or any education degree, DeVos' nomination was embroiled in controversy from its inception. She fumbled through her Senate confirmation meeting and was subsequently met with a strong backlash from public school supporters and teachers unions. Senate Democrats debated long into the night and early Tuesday morning; the vote eventually came to a historic 50-50 split down party lines, apart from two Republican Senators who voted against DeVos, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Vice President Mike Pence was called in to cast his vote and break the tie, making history as the first time that a vice president has been summoned to break a tie on a cabinet nomination.

Since then, educators around the country have voiced their outrage. In a press release, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said "DeVos shows an antipathy for public schools; a full-throttled embrace of private, for-profit alternatives; and a lack of basic understanding of what children need to succeed in school."

To get a better understanding of how those who worked in the education sector felt about the new Secretary of Education, I spoke to five local educators about their views on Betsy DeVos and the potential implications of her confirmation on the future of education in America.*

**Melissa is an administrator in upstate New York, with 20 years of experience in education. She has attended a public school, worked in a public school, and sent her children to public schools. She described the school she currently works for as having average needs.

Amanda is a 5th grade teacher at a charter school in upstate New York, with 5 years of education experience. She has attended a public school, and worked at a public school for 4 years. She described the school she currently works for as having low needs.

Pamela is a chemistry teacher at a public high school in upstate New York, with 18 years of experience in education. She has experience teaching in public schools, and she described the school she currently works for as having high needs.

Vicki is the Director of Curriculum at a private school for children with learning disabilities in New York City. She has 17 years of education experience, has attended a public high school, earned her undergraduate degree at a SUNY school, and earned her graduate degree at a CUNY school. She described the school she currently works for as having low needs.

Kristin is a teacher at a private Catholic school in upstate New York, with 20 years in if experience in education. She attended public school, and she described the school she currently works for as having high needs.

Compared to many other states, New York has high education standards for both educators and students. Betsy DeVos has proposed that we leave education "up to the states." As an educator in New York State, what are your thoughts on leaving these decisions to individual states?

Melissa: "I am supportive [of leaving education up to the states]. It allows for more localized control."

Amanda: "I think that for states that have high standards, it works. For states that don't, there is no accountability. Also, if a student moves [to a different] state, there will be no continuity of standards or curriculum."

Pamela: "New York has had standards and cumulative state assessments since before I started teaching. Massachusetts and California also had similar tests and standards. All three states also required a high level of proficiency and education of their teachers. Because of this, these three states have always had the best education systems in the country. If it was "left to the states," we would be okay. However, I am concerned about other states. With some sort of national standards and benchmarks, other states have been required to hit at least minimal standards for their students. I am afraid that these states will slide backwards without national guidance. I am particularly worried about science education in states that will allow religious groups influence what is taught in science classrooms."

Vicki: "I believe there is a minimal standard of quality we need to establish nationally and a minimum budget that needs to be established so that we do not have grossly underfunded schools in our country."

Kristin: "There needs to be cohesiveness among the states. Children don't generally stay in one area of the country. They need to be prepared to join the work force in any part of the country."

DeVos is a strong proponent of expanding charter schools, school choice, and for-profit education. What are your views on this?

Melissa: "I am strongly opposed. Charters and for-profit [schools] play by their own rules and use public funds to push their agendas. These schools can choose their students while siphoning funds from public schools."

Amanda: "I believe that every parent should have the right to send their child to the best school possible. I don't think that their ability to do so should be dependent on their socioeconomic status, their address, or intelligence. That being said, I don't believe for-profit education is the best way to achieve that."

Pamela: "I am against this. Charter schools, school choice, and for-profit education leach money from public schools, especially in areas that can ill-afford to lose funding. School choice/vouchers tend to benefit white, upper middle class children, and help to re-segregate schools. Moving towards charter schools, school choice, and for profit education will destroy the public education."

Vicki: "I believe those are increasingly important options for families, but [they are] a direct result of poor budgeting, mismanaged educational standards, and [there is] too broad of a focus on an inclusion model for special education, which I oppose."

Kristin: "I haven't listened too much because there was no mention of private or parochial schools."

In her Senate confirmation meeting, DeVos refused to agree with Senator Tim Kaine that all schools receiving federal funding (either public schools, public charter schools, or private schools receiving voucher money), should be held accountable to the same standards. What is your response to this?

Melissa: "They should absolutely be held to the same standards. If you want the funds, play by the rules."

Amanda: "If they are receiving federal funding, [all schools] should absolutely be accountable to the same standards. DeVos refusal to answer [Senator Kaine's question] makes me believe that she will arbitrarily impose these standards to make it difficult for some schools to continue to receive that aid."

Pamela: "I am angry. This is a means of gutting public education, because schools will be compared on different scales. The charter school advocates will then point to data that is not measured on the same scale [as public schools]."

Vicki: "I think we need accountability for all schools receiving public funds, but I am not convinced that the [current] "standards", if we are referring to the Common Core standards, are the correct metric."

Kristin: "Absolutely all schools should have the same accountability [standards], regardless of receiving funding get or not."

People have argued that Trump’s administration can’t cause significant damage if he is only in office for the next four years. What is your response to this?

Melissa: "I feel like things have already changed. I hope we continue to have an appropriate balance of power."

Amanda: "It only takes one bad piece of legislation, one year of minimal funding, or one year of chaos in schools to permanently affect a child's education and future."

Pamela: "Of course he can. Four years can dismantle the Department of Education, which will be impossible to reassemble afterwards. It can also gut federal funding for public schools, which will cause public schools to close."

Vicki: "When a child's quality of education is on the line (4 years is one third of their educational experience), it is a very long time for them."

Kristin: "Four years is one third of a child's education. There is never any time to waste!"

Finally, what would you say to those who are worried about or most affected by these proposed policy changes?

Melissa: "Poor students need a champion and so do public schools. I'm deeply disheartened."

Amanda: "Advocate, advocate, advocate. It is not simply enough to complain or share articles; we must make our voices heard. We have immense power if we use it correctly. With many officials up for reelection next year, it is imperative that we advocate for what is right."

Pamela: "I would say that teachers will fight anything that will impact our students in a negative way. We have been rolling with changes for years, and we have spoken up about the harm we have seen. We are not quiet, and we will not let our students suffer."

Vicki: "Get involved in your child's education. Pay attention at IEP meetings, get a second opinion, listen carefully to your child's teacher, and read to your child every night. Parents of special needs children, protect your child like a mama bear."

Kristin: Harass your representative to make sure your voice is heard.***

* Some answers have been edited or condensed for clarity

** For privacy purposes, some details regarding the names and workplaces of those who were interviewed have been changed or excluded.

*** To contact your local representative, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

This Survey Shows How Quarantine And Drinking Relate, And I Can't Say I'm Surprised

"5 o'clock somewhere" is more of a guideline now than ever.

As it stands, and my friends and I are finally 21. We're extremely excited to be able to go out to bars and "get lit" as the kids say, but due to the pandemic, all of our plans have been put on hold. We'd rather wait and go when it's safe than risk spreading the infection and hurting our loved ones. So, we've all been quarantining apart, getting on the occasional wine zoom call. This made me wonder if anyone else our age were doing the same thing.

Then, I discovered this survey: We Surveyed Millennials And Gen Z About Their Quarantine Drinking Habits — Cheers. Here are 3 things that I discovered through the survey results.

Keep Reading... Show less

5 Easy Summer Mocktail Recipes You Can Make With Items You Probably Already Have On-Hand

Keep these drinks in mind next time you're visiting your local farmer's market — you might want to grab some extra mint and limes.

With Summer 2020 in full swing comes the addition of many fresh fruits and vegetables to brighten up your dinner plate, but also your glass! Farmers markets are my personal favorite place to look for produce that is in season to make fun mocktails with.

Keep Reading... Show less

5 Ways To Celebrate The 4th of July — Without Fireworks Or Social Gatherings

We created a list of things to do since social distancing may create a dent in our typical, planned traditions.

With the Fourth of July on Saturday, the usual tradition of popping fireworks, grilling out, and being surrounded by family has been modified due to the pandemic. Whether you're a loner or surrounded by family, there will most likely be some changes to your celebrations.

For weeks on social media, people across the country have been complaining that they have been subjected to fireworks going off at all times of the night into the early morning. This has sparked concern and questions about why this is happening and how are people even obtaining the fireworks.

Keep Reading... Show less

Carb And Cheese Lovers, Unite — These Are The Best Mac And Cheese Recipes On The Internet

Whether you need to get through the current pandemic or want to spice up your Fourth of July celebrations, these mac and cheese recipes will do just that.


My favorite food is mac and cheese, and it always has been. All it requires is noodles and cheese — it's so simple to make. Although it's my favorite, it can also get kind of mundane because it's such a simple recipe. This, of course, has led to many people all over the world experimenting with the American staple.

With our lives currently being turned upside down due to the pandemic, a lot of people are seeking comfort. These are scary times, and in order to make it day-to-day, we need to have our favorite foods as a standby. These recipes can also be used during your celebration of the Fourth of July.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

17 Things To Make You Feel GOOD This Week

Because some purchases are just necessary.

Y'all, we're struggling. You don't even have to tell me, I know. What a mess we're all in, right? This year is not going how we planned and the world has turned into one giant struggle bus. I guess you could be super philosophical about everything happening for a reason, but sometimes life is just hard.

There are plenty of ways to bring yourself out of whatever rut you're in. You could go for a run, have a snack, or read a book. Or, if you're really looking for an adrenaline rush, go shopping. This is obviously not going to solve the world's problems with one swift click of the "checkout" button, but hey, it may just give you the little boost you need today.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Wore A Butt Mask Every Day For A Month, And It's Officially Essential In My Daily Self-Love Routine Now

Thirty days later, my booty's as smooth as a baby's.

- Blissfully unaware that butt-care beyond squats was even something I should be considering in my self-care routine, I tried one of Bawdy Beauty's butt masks for the first time a month ago.

- I've never really given my butt a second though till I took a look at improvements that could be made with the mask — if one of the hydrating, firming, detoxifying, or brightening masks in the kit I received could either smooth out cellulite or tone my skin a bit more, I wasn't going to complain.

- Each Bawdy Beauty sheet mask comes in an individually-packaged sheet, soaked with a serum I massaged into my skin after removing said sheet. The clay butt mask comes in a convenient stick format I simply draw on to my skin and leave to set for about 10 minutes before hopping into the shower.

- I set a goal of committing myself to butt-care every day for one month. Between the regular use of sheet masks, clay masks, and their CBD Butt Balm in between, I didn't have many expectations.

- I thought the whole concept may just be a gimmick, but my butt has never looked so toned in my life, and the cellulite I had is almost completely gone. I wear one every single day when I get the chance.

I'm incredibly skeptical when it comes to marketing ploys and gimmicks in the beauty world. I'll be the first cynic to try out the latest serum on the market every influencer is raving about just to negate every grandiose claim it makes.

Keep Reading... Show less

Friends, you don't have to be quarantined to use a personal massager, you know? Because, sure, quarantine made for a lot of extra quality time with yourself, but no matter what phase of the reopening process you're in, it's normal and actually healthy to take care of your sexual needs on your own.

Keep Reading... Show less

5 Books I Didn't Realize Are About Gay Women

If you read primarily LGBTQ fiction, then this list might help to expand your TBR list.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Frequent readers of LGBTQ fiction might feel like they're reading the same book over and over again, with few exceptions.

Most of these books were on my TBR list for months and I didn't realize they were about gay women until I was reading them, hopefully, this list of books can interest you in expanding your reading material and seeking out different stories.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments