Education News

Educators school DeVos, Trump Ed Secretary nominee, on student needs

By Amanda Litvinov

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It’s cold and snowy in Erie, Pennsylvania, where middle school educator Cari Rowe works. That’s why she was so concerned to discover last week that one of her students had large holes in the soles of her shoes that left her with dripping wet socks.

“Instead of eating lunch that day, I ran out to buy her sneakers, winter boots and a package of socks,” said Rowe. She knew that the student’s parents—who both work—simply couldn’t afford the new footwear.

Rowe related the story in response to our query: “What do you wish Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos knew about our public schools?” a question we posed because DeVos would be the first Secretary of Education with no experience of any kind in public schools.

For Rowe, here is the bottom line: “Without quality public education, this beautiful child has little hope. We must not allow for-profit charters and private schools to strip funds from the public schools serving our neediest children.”

DeVos is a proponent of vouchers and privatization–in other words, funneling tax dollars into private schools and for-profit charters that do not serve all students and are not held to the same standards as public schools.

No one knows better than educators why Betsy DeVos is wrong to head up the nation’s school system. Take a look at more of the responses we received, then share your story.


Dear Betsy DeVos…

I have worked in public education for 17 years. Education is not a business. Filtering students into corporate charter schools is not the answer. Investing in ALL of our public schools with adequate funding that attracts great teachers and supports appropriate class sizes is how you improve education. If you want to improve education, Ms. DeVos, FUND IT.

–Kari Smith, teacher, Virginia


I am a first grade teacher at a public school in a low-income area with a high English learner population. Many of my students come into kindergarten barely able to speak English, hold a pencil, or write their name. By the time they leave first grade, after only two years of schooling, my students can have conversations using academic language, write narrative and informative paragraphs, research and present information independently using an iPad, solve real world math problems that apply to scenarios relevant to the 21st century, and solve conflicts with peers using problem solving skills.

I work hard to provide quality education to my students so that they can be successful, open minded, innovative people who will influence the future of our country. I am proud to say that I work in public education and I hope that one day, Betsy DeVos, you are able to see public education for what it really is, and be proud of it, too.

–Brooke Villalpando, teacher, California


I am an educator in a high poverty suburban school. We have been successful year after year (6th year in a row with an ‘A’ grade) but we aren’t in the news. There are many other schools like us. Why not find out how we are succeeding? Why disparage the entire system when it is working in many places? Why not tackle the root causes for children struggling in school, like poverty and trauma?

–Anne Renihan, teacher, Indiana


Politicians who say they want students to have “choice” are really saying they do not want public funds to support education for all children.

If you really care about educating American children, Ms. DeVos, you will look at what has proven to work in the many public schools that have done well, and try to replicate those policies and programs in schools and districts that are not YET doing well. Current research on vouchers and charter schools show they do not do a better job at educating our children, but they take funds away from public schools.

–Linda Fredrickson, teacher, Texas


As a paraeducator in a high school, I can tell you, Ms. DeVos, that our schools are underfunded and our students are overtested! We need to educate the whole child–not just test them! We also must help them overcome the challenges they face in their home lives so they can learn. All students deserve a great education in their neighborhood school.

–Tricia Kob, paraeducator, Colorado


I worked in private schools for five years and I am in my sixth year as a public school educator. In my experience the private schools are more concerned about keeping parents happy than educating students.  The public schools I have worked in are held to a higher standard and the staff, from top to bottom, work hard to create a caring environment where all students can learn. I would not consider putting my own children into one of your for-profit schools, Ms. DeVos.

–Scott Carpenter, teacher, Wyoming


I have worked in public schools for over 30 years. During this time I have witnessed outstanding educators open their hearts and souls, not to mention their wallets, to ensure that their students succeed. When I began my career teachers generally had sufficient resources to do their job. Every time a new mandate (usually unfunded ) or budget cut came along the teacher had a little less control and a few more students. When charter schools came along and didn’t have to play by the same rules such as enrollment requirements, teacher standards, and addressing special needs, the public schools had to work even harder with fewer resources.

The results you bought in Michigan do not give better options to families and students—rather,  they widen the socioeconomic gap. And now you want to bring the same abysmal system to the whole nation? God help us.

 –Randy Wright, retired educator, Arizona



8 responses to “Educators school DeVos, Trump Ed Secretary nominee, on student needs

  1. My husband and I sent our nine children to Catholic schools…BUT NEVER voted down support of public schools —
    they are (or could/should be) the one level playing field for our children — Betsy DeVos is the enemy of a level playing field in her quest to dismantle public education, SHAME!

  2. Charter schools are funded by taxpayers money just like public schools yet are able to follow different rues is the current set up. I will accept. What must happen in both school settings is the cost the school receives to educate each student Must be the same, the Charger should not receive any extra student funding– that is stealing — from the public school ( that is what happens now and that is not fair). Also, accountability and oversight must occur otherwise we are throwing away “our” money to greedy business people that do not put educating the child first along with being fiscally responsible.

    1. In Massachusetts it seems charters are running fairly well. What to me seems to be the issue is this: While there are all sorts of arguments regarding admission, discipline and so forth I believe the success of the charters that do well is because of the parents. Parental involvement is a key and those who even just perceive charters to be better, correct or not, strive to get their kids into those schools. So even if the admission field is level, the pool of admitees ( I guess that’s an OK word) is rigged to the extent its populated with more concerned parents. The net result is a higher achieving school. Even if every thing else is level (maybe- maybe not) the parent factor has a huge influence.

      1. The view that parents who can be involved are more “concerned” is unfair. Single parents, 2 parent households and grandparents raising grandchildren must work and mostly don’t get to choose their working hours. Some must have 2-3 jobs. Yes, children with involved parents seem to do better and teachers appreciate it but it’s not an option gor many parents.

  3. Kids whose shoes have holes is not a problem for education institutions. Kids who enter school unable to speak English are not a problem for public schools to address. Read Teddy Roosevelt’s comments about immigrants and the English language. All schools need accountability. If a parent selects a private school, then they (parents) are responsible to see the school is held accountable. If a parent choses a public school, as most do, the government becomes accountable for the performance of the school. Or so it is thought. Consider how well the government achieves accountability for anything. There needs to be oversight, involvement and demands for accountability by all parents

    1. Yes, and the biggest gift DeVos and Trump is giving us is…you better GET involved! How ever you can manage it…you better find a way to do it.

  4. Dear Ms DeVos,

    A couple in my family had a child with special needs who was enrolled in a private school. That school kept telling the parents that everything was fine in order to keep the tuition coming in. It wasn’t until the parents enrolled the child in the public school that the special needs were addressed. That private school put its own interests above that of students. I’m not saying that all private schools do that, but without oversight some will.

    Public schools are not perfect, but the fact is that for the foreseeable future the vast majority of America’s students will be educated in public schools. Yes, we need accountability for public schools, but we also need support.

    You have a lot to learn and if you are confirmed remember that every day.

    We also need accountability for private and charter schools and we can’t give them a pass.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree. In Michigan, special needs children are being neglected – thanks ( in a big way) to our governor- who as a businessman and NOT a politician decided that they didn’t need. Many ” special things- including rooms” . In my opinion this is not only wrong but criminal. These children and their families shouldn’t have to fight EVERY day to achieve an adequate education. It appears that they will be totally lost if she has her way..

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