President Trump has chosen you as his Secretary of Education, but it has been said that you devalue the American Public School System and think that teachers are overpaid (overpaid – says the Michigan Republican billionaire).
Mrs. DeVos, your education work in Michigan includes a push for for-profit charter schools, as well as a voucher program making it possible for students and their parents to take money away from the public school system and instead fund private or religious schools.
According to an article published by the Washington Post, collectively, charter schools in Michigan “perform worse than the traditional public schools do.”
In accordance with President Trump’s campaign promise, you’re hoping to implement a voucher system country-wide.
In an op-ed for Detroit News, you wrote: “We should liberate all students from this woefully under-performing district model and provide in its place a system of schools where performance and competition create high-quality opportunities for kids.”
In saying that, do you mean providing a system of schools with high-quality opportunities for kids (whose families can afford it) while the “other kids,” in financially-struggling families, get stuck with that woefully under-performing district model?
Unlike your children, Mrs. DeVos, as the child of a military family, I went to public school, and because of the American Public School System, I learned not only my basics in English, Math Science, History, etc., but was also taught (by hardworking and underpaid teachers) that I had potential.
My senior year of high school, when I thought I had reached the pinnacle of my knowledge in writing, I took an advanced composition class. The first assignment seemed fairly easy – a basic writing prompt. I completed the assignment, turned it in, and expected a perfect grade the next day.
My expectations were not met.
Streaks of red ink blotted my paper. At the very end stood two words in fine handwriting: “Has potential.”
I was surprised. I was almost hurt.
But, Mrs. DeVos, the surprising thing is that the (underpaid) public school teacher took the time, effort, and patience to deal with my snarky, I-know-perfect-grammar-and-writing-techniques attitude, and taught me that potential was actually a marvelous trait.
Potential meant there was already a great foundation, but that the blueprints still had room for improvement.
My public school teacher could’ve taught her students, graded her students, and then let her students out into the world for continued professional development in college or the work force, but instead, she treated each of her students as special individuals with unique talents.
My public school teacher spent hours reading our short stories, and taking extra time to write in the margins what she liked, what she thought needed work, and how to improve the prose.
My public school teacher was not overpaid, Mrs. DeVos, but she was undervalued.
She saw the potential in me, and she pushed me every day in her class to be a better writer. I may not have valued her then, but I appreciate her, now. Anytime I write an article, a report or even an email to a professor, my former public school teacher’s lessons come to mind.
I know that I have potential, and I work with my potential every day.
My teacher, along with countless other teachers in the American Public School System, spend so much time – both in and out of the classroom – teaching, creating lesson plans, grading, inspiring; and they spend so much of their own earnings to pay for students school material, equipment, etc. (not to mention, my public school teacher shared store-bought cookies with students in my class).
Therefore, Mrs. DeVos, I am asking you in this letter (while perhaps also criticizing the things you have said and done for education in the past) that you, please, take a day to actually visit a public school. I know you, nor your children, have ever been in one, but please go and witness, firsthand, the future of the American public being molded by the public school teachers who are over-dedicated and underpaid (as opposed to the study AEI – which your family is aligned with – has concluded).
I sincerely hope you, and President Trump, will reconsider the country-wide school-choice vouchers.
Public Schools, and their students, are suffering from lack of funding (especially in poverty-stricken counties!!!), but this cannot be solved by letting (only) the rich chose for-profit, private schooling.
The American Public School System inspired me. It could do the same for many other young Americans, as long as they are all given equal and fair opportunities to learn.
Please, Mrs. DeVos, use your position to help the Education System, and keep in mind the wonderful public school teachers – like the amazing one that I had.
Mrs. DeVos, I bet you have potential, too.