It would have been impossible for Trump to make a worse decision than to select billionaire Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, but why would I be surprised when Trump himself was a spoiled rich kid. She has absolutely no knowledge related to the public school system, and no experience in the field of education. Her claim is that she wants to offer ‘more choices,’ while attacking the entire system of free education. In 2015, she called public schools “a dead end,” and that she “wasn’t sure how they could get a whole lot worse.”
The only truth in her observation is that generally speaking, public schools in the suburbs are often rated higher than those in inner cities; but that’s not a problem that is irreparable. Neighborhoods should not be labeled as having ‘better’ or ‘worse’ schools; they should have a common standard.
The parents of children in inner city schools average a far lower income level than in the suburbs. Children often arrive at their schools hungry, and many suffer from restless sleep. Add to these factors overcrowding, insufficient staffing, and underpaid teachers, and the situation deteriorates. Funding to build new schools or expand existing ones is usually decided by voters for the entire school district. When the economy crashed, voters were reluctant to accept additional taxes for schools.
DeVos is true to her Republican beliefs. She wants to destroy something rather than repair it; once again proving that Republicans are unable to govern effectively.
DeVos, a product of private schools, favors private and charter schools. She believes that children should receive vouchers and be allowed to attend the school of their parent’s choice. But here’s just one problem.
In Arizona, where this plan is in effect, reports of racism have been reported. Private schools are not obligated to accept every student who wants to attend their school. One situation was reported by Patricia MacCorquodale. Her daughter was about to enter first grade. Ms. MacCorquodale began her search with one private school. She was informed by the Principal that there were several openings in first grade, and that she should drop her off the following day and decide whether or not this was the school for her.
When Ms. MacCorquodale picked up her daughter, K.T., at noon the following day, she was thrilled with her daughter’s report of how much she loved the facility. Then came the bad news; the Principal informed her that there were no openings in first grade. When asked if she could be placed on the waiting list, she was told that they did not keep one.
Ms. MacCorquodale is blonde, with blue eyes, and K.T. is Hispanic.
Now a personal experience. I attended private, Catholic school for ten years. After two years in Catholic high school, I was unhappy. The teachers were of lesser quality; some could barely speak English. My classes for the upcoming junior year were assigned, offering me only a single choice. I begged my mother to allow me to attend the public high school.
My last two years of high school were terrific. Boys and girls were allowed to attend classes together, and the dress code offered many choices. For the first time in my life I attended classes with children of other races and cultures. There were blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Jews, and even a few Muslims. This experience, combined with some teachers whose goal was to actually encourage us to use our ability of free thought made those years fly by. My memories of Venice High School remain very pleasurable and very successful.
My experience should not be considered unique. In a school attended by over 3,000 students, I was more of an individual, and believe I received a far better education than I did in Catholic school which was attended by 1,200 boys and girls.
It is up to the community, school board, educators, and parents to ensure that our system of public education returns to the standards of the 1960’s, when I attended one. It takes money and involvement by all of the aforementioned groups to make education the priority, and our schools will immediately improve.
Unlike those on the right wing, I believe that “if something is broke, fix it.” DeVos should resign and return to her life of privilege and luxury; allowing those of us who understand the current system an opportunity to make the necessary improvements.
By James Turnage
Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey
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