Skip to main content

Letter to the Editor Regarding DeVos

***Update:  At the time this letter was read at Monday’s board meeting, the hearing regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education was still scheduled for Wednesday, January 11. Later that evening, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions postponed the hearing until January 17 at 5:00 PM.


This is a letter to the editor that I will submit for the January 12 edition of the Belleville-Area Independent

-----

To the Editor:

This week marks a defining moment for public education in the United States. On Wednesday, January 11, a hearing will have taken place regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination  as the secretary of education.

During the past few board meetings, I have expressed my concerns publicly about Mrs. DeVos’ appointment to the top education post, and I reiterate those same concerns here. I have contacted Senator Stabenow and Peter’s offices, and they both have now expressed their concerns regarding this appointment and have vowed to vote against her nomination. I commend this move from our senators on behalf of the students in Michigan’s public schools.

In Michigan, DeVos has been an outspoken advocate for charter schools. As Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press has written, she and other family members have given over $2 million to GLEP, the Great Lakes Education Project, a political action committee that promotes “school choice.” She is a member of the American Federation for Children as well as other organizations that encourage “choice” and “parental empowerment.” While these phrases sound good, they all operate under the guise of improving academic outcomes but are supported by incredibly troublesome records of achievement.

I encourage anyone wishing to learn more about Michigan’s lackluster results with charter schools to read “Michigan spends $1B on charterschools but fails to hold them accountable” from the Free Press. 

I am deeply troubled over the possibility of her appointment to this post for a myriad of reasons, including: her utter lack of experience in public schools, as she did not attend a public school, did not send her children to public schools, and has never worked in a public school; the DeVos family’s contributions to undermine increased charter school oversight, including lifting the cap on the number of charter schools in Michigan; and her involvement in the 2000 campaign to amend Michigan’s constitution to allow school vouchers, which is currently prevented by the Blaine amendment.

At the time this letter was submitted, the Office of Government Ethics, the department responsible for vetting cabinet nominees, has expressed concerns about DeVos and the seemingly rushed nomination process as well, noting that her ethics review was still incomplete.

I believe that the secretary of education should put research first, and he or she should represent the best interests of our public schools and not work to undermine them.

Sincerely,

Kevin English
Trustee, VBPS Board of Education

Resident, Sumpter Township

Comments

  1. I like your style, Mr. English, and even more, your substance.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Does anyone think DeVos as secretary of education is a good idea?

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Targets and Time

I just finished Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje's No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning from Heinemann's Not This But That series edited by Ellin Oliver Keene and Nell Duke.

Needless to say, I pick up anything that's by Tovani and Moje because of Tovani's belief in the workshop model and Moje's extensive work in both disciplinary and out of school literacies.

After finishing this quick read, I've been thinking a lot about two things.

First, how we spend our time matters. I get less than 60 minutes with students each hour. Time is a hot commodity! Because of that, I am constantly looking at ways to maximize instruction. If I pass papers back this way or if I move this to this point in time, I can gain another minute. And those minutes add up! Sometimes, however, it feels like there is just never enough time. All teachers know that. In fact, I've yet to meet a teacher admit that she or he has too much time with students, especia…

Stop Ignoring Research

I just finished Kylene Beers and Robert Probst's Disrupting Thinking. I keep thinking about page 103 in the text, where they discuss the idea of "research-based practices" and how many of us "are willing to ignore what we know from research." They mention teaching grammar in isolation, spelling lists, lack of conferring in writing classrooms, monologic talk, prescribing novels without choice--the list goes on and on. I get frustrated because I hear from other teachers often excuses for why they do these things. And even I have felt forced to resort to some of these practices at times because it's what kids have been conditioned to expect at school. It is amazing how quiet a classroom can be when you give every student a worksheet. And if compliance is our end goal, then a worksheet works. But if we want students to undertake meaningful work that's often the work supported by best practices, we're going to have to be willing to get a whole lot more u…

Kids Wielding Critical Thinking

I first heard Cornelius Minor speak at NCTE’s convention last fall, and I was instantly impressed. He very quickly had dozens of adults moving around the room, jumping rope, making lists—learning in some of the most engaged ways.
I recently subscribed to the Heinemann Podcast and I found myself devouring the series of episodes featuring Minor. Trust me. You don’t want to miss these.The episode on “The Over-Engaged Student” is one of them. Through the story of “Prez,” a nickname given to one particular student, Minor explores ways that he is able to “turn the volume down” “but respect his enthusiasm” on the type of student that we have all encountered. You know, the one who always seems to have a comment or contribution to make, even if, at times, it might not seem relevant. And that’s when Minor says this: “One of the things that we never want to do is silence kids.” That made me stop and think about all the times that I’ve asked kids to “hold that thought” and then never returned to …