Thursday, January 19, 2017

My Letter to the Secretary of Education: I Heard So Little and Didn't Hear So Much!

Betsy,


I will not deny that your selection as the Secretary of Education concerns (terrifies) me.  Those concerns have only been intensified after watching your confirmation hearing.  While I was frightened by the things you said, I was even MORE frightened by the things that you DIDN’T say. So, I’m hoping that you can help me understand some things more clearly. I have a few questions. (I did hear you say "thank you for that great question" (several times) so I will accept that response here.)


I heard you talk a great deal about parent/student choice and helping students “escape” from failing schools.  While you may feel that this will help those particular students, I didn't hear you say anything about what you would do to help those students who don’t “escape” (using your words).  How will you ensure that they are receiving the education that they, too, deserve?  

I didn’t hear you mention that.


I never heard you say anything about how you were going to support the “failing” schools (again, your words).  I know that the teachers in those schools are working every bit as hard as (if not harder than) the teachers in your elite schools.  Incredibly unsupported and often lacking necessary resources and training, I would have loved to hear your plans for how you would strengthen, support and champion for those schools.  As educators, we spend a great deal of time, thought, heartache, resources, planning and implementation on populations who aren’t meeting expectations...I guess, in your words, who are “failing”.  We don’t write them off, we don’t quit, we don’t stop.  We try, we adjust, we seek advice, we plan (re-plan, re-plan, re-plan) and do everything in our power to ensure that those students succeed.  I wonder if as Secretary of Education you would extend the same support to struggling schools?  

I didn’t hear you mention that.


You said that you would be an advocate for “all great schools”.  As Secretary of Education shouldn’t you have said:  “I will be an advocate for ALL schools...helping, supporting and doing everything in my power to ensure that they are ALL great.”?  

I didn’t hear you mention that.

Inclusion? Safety? Accountability?

I didn't hear you mention so very, very much.


Our kids deserve the best.  ALL kids.  Our schools deserve the best.  ALL schools.  I heard you mention “some kids”, “some parents”, “some schools”.  But all schools? All parents?  ALL kids?  

I didn’t hear you mention that.


SIncerely, and with Great Concern,

Me