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20 Teachers Tell Betsy DeVos Exactly What They Think

"Not every public school is a failure."

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Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, was just narrowly approved by a Senate committee, and her next step will be to clear a full Senate vote.

...others do not.

Twitter: @SenBobCasey

DeVos has come under fire for ducking several questions around education, like how she'd address issues of campus rape, how to protect the rights of students with disabilities, and whether or not she felt guns had a place in schools, among other things.

So we asked the BuzzFeed community of teachers to weigh in: As a teacher, what are your hopes, fears, and thoughts about DeVos's nomination? Here's what they said:

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

1. "I’m not against a complete overhaul of the education system. As long as it’s done right."

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

All I ask is that you take some time to really understand the public school system and talk to real teachers who will experience whatever you implement as a part of their daily lives. If you think that there are parts of private education that would benefit all students, that’s great, take those and implement them in public schools. I’m not against a complete overhaul of the education system. As long as it’s done right.

marissamariew

2.

I teach high school music. She needs to know that music is the only subject which uses both sides of the brain simultaneously. Besides all the other awesome facts about music.

jonahp4f223facd

3.

I teach special education at a charter school in Kansas City. Although I believe in charter schools and have seen our school provide opportunities for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, I still believe the priority should be in building up our public schools. I do not think we need more charter schools to level the playing field for students — we need to build up our public schools so families have the assurance of knowing their child will get an excellent education without having to enter a lottery.

taylorb4566d8f98

4. "Public schools are not failing our children."

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Public schools are not failing our children. I have yet to meet a public school teacher who doesn’t have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of basic supplies every year. Paper, pencils, folders, notebooks, glue, scissors, crayons...the list goes on. Which all proves the sheer dedication of every public educator.

JAHudak

5.

My main concern would be: “Do you know anything about public education? Have you ever walked through a public school? Do you know public school teachers?” Because from everything I’ve read about this person, she would have no clue where to start.

saslagle17

6.

The public school system nationwide has so many problems, and we need someone who is willing and able to fix them. Please, educate yourself on the issues and make informed decisions about them, or allow someone to take your place.

lslater

7. "One thing I would like Mrs. DeVos to know is that it is teachers who truly impact education."

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

I’m a third-grade teacher. One thing I would like Mrs. DeVos to know is that it is teachers who truly impact education. Start valuing teachers and the work that we do and you will see a change. Our education system is not broken, and anyone who’s actually been in a classroom knows there is much to be hopeful for.

meganf61816

8.

If one of my students doesn’t answer a question on a test, there are varying repercussions. There should be repercussions for her as well.

madeleinek43e5c5a7b

9.

I’m a teacher in Indiana, and I would love for Betsy DeVos to know that public schools can be amazing. Our school is a Title I school with about half of our kids coming from Mexico speaking no English. While our proficiency isn’t where the government would like it, our growth rates are simply amazing. I don’t think many parents here would complain about “choice” or say their kids don’t get a good education.

sarahrose214

11.

I am a middle school special education teacher. I want Ms. DeVos to know that she cannot “leave it up to the states” [her words] to choose how to serve students with disabilities. If Ms. DeVos wants to be the secretary of education, but she doesn’t know that IDEA is a federal law, then I automatically lose faith in her ability to do her job. Most teachers learn about IDEA their first semester of professional education in college.

emilypaigem

12.

Our students are worth it, Betsy. They are incredible. They have so much potential, and so much compassion. They deserve everything we can give them — every ounce of support and understanding, every opportunity, every second and third and fifth and tenth chance. Our job as educators and academic advisors and educational specialists is to stand behind them and show them how to use the potential that they already have.

—Andrea Wilson, Facebook

13. "I want her to know that teachers aren’t paid enough."

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

I want her to know that teachers need more support than they receive. The middle school I teach at is at 110% capacity, yet we get no support from the county to fix the overcrowding.

I want her to know that teachers aren’t paid enough. My day doesn’t end when the bell rings.

meaganm46947b20b

14.

The teacher I shadowed received Teacher of the Year in 2000, the Golden Apple Award, he became the first African American and the first male teacher in his district to achieve certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, he was selected as the Walmart and Sam’s Club Teacher of the Year in 2007, and he has participated in five international training programs for teachers. That is dedication to teaching. That is what the Department of Education should be trying to achieve: qualified and passionate teachers. You can’t fix the system with vouchers. You fix it with better teachers.

Kathleen M.

15.

I teach seventh grade humanities and I want Betsy DeVos to know that teachers are on the front lines of education, constantly fighting battles for our students' future and welfare. We need SUPPORT. We deserve for our voices to be heard.

bobbik41b93f4f6

16.

I am a special education teacher at a private therapeutic day school. These students require many different supports to be successful. All of my students have access and a right to these services well past the typical high school graduation age because of IDEA and the Americans with Disabilities Act. You need to know that these children who are growing into adults deserve to have these supports and more available to them so that they can be successful and lead meaningful lives. You need to uphold these laws and make sure that teachers can count on you to support the difficult yet rewarding work we do each and every day (weekends and vacations included).

lalalaurenb

17. "If charter schools are supposed to be the answer to failing public schools, why are they performing worse?"

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

I teach sixth grade at a public school in Indiana. In the state of Indiana, where Mike Pence tried desperately to sink public education, charter schools perform significantly lower on standardized tests. If charter schools are supposed to be the answer to failing public schools, why are they performing worse?

Hsmith116

18.

If you truly want to make American education better, you will listen to teachers. We are in the classrooms.

jenip47b3144a9

19.

I am an elementary school special education teacher of students who have moderate to severe disabilities. I see on a daily basis how much enjoyment my students get from being on a public school campus with their general education peers. While part of our curriculum happens in my classroom, there is a whole other part that happens when my students get to engage with peer models. It is such a learning experience for the general education students to come into my classroom and engage with my students as well. If all the general ed students get to go to private school or use vouchers, what will be the future for students like mine? They may learn differently from most students, but they are still children who deserve the best minds and leaders we can give them. I hope we can find a way to set that example for them.

alyssas4015e6c96

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