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I don’t have a great reach with this blog, but I feel as though we all must be active to make sure that we protect our moral standing and do what is right for us and for our neighbors.

office-620817_640I am urging you all to write your senators, in whatever way that makes sense to you.

The internet makes it super easy, maybe too easy, to get your name out there beside your causes. But this is what makes a democracy a democracy.

Power to the people.

But the people have no power if the people are silent.

One of my greatest causes that I feel I must stand behind is equity in education. I teach students who didn’t ask to come to the United States. They are simply dealing with life as it comes along, for the most part, dealing with the aftermath of their parents’ decisions. And my job is to help them make the best go of it, with as much compassion as I can muster.

My Issue Of The Day: Ask your senator to vote against confirmation of Betsy DeVos.

Why would we support putting people in positions they know nothing about? If your main goal is to dismantle education, why would you be put in charge? You’re against it, and you’ve not spent any time in it, understanding what teachers and students are going through.

I understand Trump doesn’t like big government. But I also understand that he doesn’t get how Common Core State Standards works. It’s not big government shoving this down the public’s throat, but rather states making decisions to make decisions with common neighbors, both saying what good schooling is.

Until the CCSS came around, what was passing in one state might not have been in another. And this is fine, as long as you live and die in the state where you choose to live and don’t do commerce across borders. But once you start to move outside these borders, the expectations shift. And that’s not helpful.

I am not the biggest fan of the CCSS because of its reliance on testing data to make sure teachers are doing what they are supposed to do. And I’m not a big fan of constantly testing, and I don’t think teacher success can be measured on student output, because we’re talking about people, not computers. But the CCSS has done a world of good for making sure that teachers and administrators pay attention to all students. And it has instituted the use of standards across schools, which was not the case when I started teaching. Teachers taught what fancied them. Not what everybody agreed was essential information.

My feeling is that having a common understanding about what is good education and what demonstrates understanding is not necessarily evil.

I recently visited a private school, which happened to be a religious school, where students who were learning English as a second language were being taught to sit in desks and not make noise, keep things neat and tidy and never talk back. They were first-graders.

So great… if this were the 1950s.

I have nothing against private schools, and nothing against religious schools, but I believe in my heart that we must teach in age-appropriate ways.

When one is learning a language, one must play with the language. And when one is a child, one must be a child.

And I don’t think first-graders should be handed highlighters and then be expected to wait while the teacher gives directions and reads a story. How can a 6-year-old possibly hold a highlighter in his hand and not start coloring?

Any time we hand new equipment to students, we have to let them play with it first, to discover what that new equipment can do. They have to be taught how this is a tool and not a toy. And we as teachers must know that these tiny human beings in front of us are not just miniature adults, but children, who need to play and discover and be curious.

They are not being “bad.”

But this is the philosophy that this teacher espoused.

“Put the cap back on the marker. You must wait for instructions.”

Or maybe, the teacher needs to see the people sitting in front of her as 6-year-olds.

My point is this: Private school is not necessarily the panacea of education. Betsy DeVos thinks that private schools (and possibly specifically Christian schools) are where our taxpayer dollars should go. She tweeted last week that she’s against the CCSS. Period. She supports school choice and wants the money to follow those choices. She serves on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which states as its mission: “To build an American education system that equips every child to achieve his or her God-given potential.”india-1177550_640

Whose God? Or gods?

Would Islamic, Buddhist or Hindu gods and their idea of a student’s potential be as welcome in this movement to move our tax dollars to religiously-based schools?

I wonder.

Because those are the gods of many of my students. Would their points of view be as welcome and deserving of tax dollars? How supportive would Ms. DeVos be of her tax dollars supporting an Islamic private school that taught Islam and reading the Quran in Arabic alongside English literature and mathematical skills?

I don’t think this would get as much support as the schools at St. Whatever down the street.

Tax dollars should be for the public good. If you choose to educate your children elsewhere, you should feel free to use your private funds to support that decision. But public schools are for the public good, and this money should not be diverted to support polo teams and golf lessons while poorer students who live too far away from those posh schools lose their public support for a solid education.

Would students from inner cities be offered busing by their private schools that are too far away to walk to because people would not want their schools in that community? Would these private schools getting tax dollars have to accept everybody, as schools getting tax dollars have to do? What about kids who are second language learners? Fall under the special education umbrella? Have extensive medical needs? Who educates them?

Will public schools still have to accommodate public need when all the money goes to support private endeavors?

How will this make America great again?

So I urge you to ask your senators to vote against her confirmation. Or if you fall on the other side of this, maybe you should ask your senators to confirm her.

But know that I’m exercising my political rights in the other direction.


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