Just last week, the United States Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as the US Secretary of Education. She will lead the course for America’s schools without producing a lesson plan. The American people do not have a lot to go off of as it relates to her plan and vision for managing our schools. And herein lies the crisis. She is downright unqualified. From what we do know, I’ve developed a lesson plan that may give us a rough blueprint of the direction she’s headed in:
Standard: Denigrate America’s public schools, discredit the effectiveness of teacher’s unions, and create free market school districts.
Objective: By the end of my tenure as US Secretary of Education, America’s public schools will no longer be able to perform due to divestments, lack of oversight, the expansion of school vouchers, and reliance on states to oversee school functions.
Activator (Warm-up): $818,000 to Republican Senators in the 2014 and 2016 election cycles; DeVos family $2 million contribution to leading charter school lobbying firm in Michigan.
Remove the racial lens on school discipline
- The “School to Prison Pipeline” theory is real AF. Black students are 24% of the public school population, but constitute nearly half of suspensions and expulsions. According to a recent paper, Black students in southern states are suspended five times or more than their representation in the school population.
- It is apparent that maintaining law and order, and keeping away the grizzlies are a priority for this administration. 45’s recent Executive Order heavily relies on incarceration, arrests, punishment of crimes against police officers.
- There are over 20,000 school resource officers in public schools across the country. Imagine if an altercation occurs between two students in a classroom and an SRO intervenes. One particular student experiences extreme difficulty in self-restraint and fights against both the student and the officer. What starts as a fight between students, mutates into a felony charge.
Limit access of parents of students with disabilities, teachers, administrators, and practitioners to pertinent information regarding their educational rights.
- Black students are 2.3 times more likely to be labeled with an emotional behavior disability, and 2.75 times more likely to be labeled with an intellectual disability than all other ethnic groups combined.
- Shortly before DeVos was sworn into office, the IDEA website was no longer accessible. This website serves as a vital resource for disability rights stakeholders. America’s public school services various populations with special needs. Many families depend on their schools to support the healthy maturation of their children.
Gradually phase out the United States Department of Education and leave students of color, students with disabilities at the mercy of states.
- It’s a conservative belief to achieve limited and decentralized government. However, the federal government became increasingly involved in public schooling in order to compete and maintain America’s sovereignty among the world’s advanced nations.
- As racial and economic inequalities exacerbated poor academic progress, the United States government began allocating millions of dollars for school districts to remedy the issue. Official federal funding was disbursed through the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act of 1965 (ESEA).
- The federal level, specifically the courts, played an integral role to ensure that schools were desegregated and equally funded. However, since Brown v. Board of Education (1954), states have implemented laws that make it difficult for students from poor communities and poorly funded schools to attend schools in more affluent communities.
- One may say the proverbial “times have changed”. And yes, we have forged further into the future. But, if we reference the changes to integral tenets of the National Voting Rights Law in 2013, and the subsequent strict voter identification laws (read voter suppression laws) implemented by southern states, states show that they do not have the best interest in empowering their ethnic electorate.
Provide parents more agency by promoting “school choice”, but ignore parent protests.
- Last week, DeVos made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the front door of a Southeast Washington, DC middle. Her camp was met with fierce opposition by teachers, parents, and community member protesters. Although she acknowledged their right to protest, she stated that it would not deter her from “[doing the] vital mission of the Department of Education”.
- However, if the Department is to service parents and their children, and if her personal interests intend to place power and choice back into their hands, it would behoove her to heed their chants. DeVos’ disregard seems to indicate the pursuit of her charter school and public school deregulation self-interests that she has invested in for decades.
Exit Slip: School districts that have poorly managed funds, or balance their budgets on the backs of children will run their schools and do justice by students of all demographics.
Homework: Students will be expected to graduate on time, stay out of trouble, attend college, and live a life of being an upright citizen.