U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has started visiting public schools. On Friday, February 10, 2017, she was met by protesters as she attempted to enter a DC middle school.
DeVos lacks any established history of supporting traditional public school. Indeed, she is known for actively supporting vouchers, or the sending of public money to private schools.
Yet she is now U.S. ed secretary, and, as one might expect, she will be visiting public schools.
Below I offer her some suggestions regarding such visits:
If DeVos is truly interested in the goings-on at public schools, she should first contact the school and arrange a visit. DeVos should not spring a “pop-in” on stakeholders.
Admin should not surprise their faculty and students with a DeVos pop-in. Furthermore, stakeholders should not find out about an upcoming DeVos visit via leaked info.
DeVos should be certain that parents are notified and included in the visit.
The visit should occur at a time that teachers are able to interact with her. DeVos told the U.S. Dept of Ed employees that she is a listener. Therefore, let her listen.
Stakeholders should be candid with DeVos but not ugly. Adults should model respectful disagreement for the students who are watching and listening.
If parents and teachers decide to include students in the visit, then students should be included if they wish. However, DeVos has been major news, and some students might not trust her because they have heard that she does not care for public schools.
Schools should have the right to say no to a DeVos visit. That way, the “yes” will be genuine.
DeVos and her people should take no pictures. Let the stakeholders take the photos, if they choose.
Finally, DeVos should not make these visits if she cannot honestly assure stakeholders (parents, students, teachers) that she intends to invest in public schools. If her goal is to dismantle America’s public schools via voucher-glutting, fiscal erosion, then any attempt at assurance of DeVos investment in public schools will come across for what it is– a lie– and building trust with stakeholders will be impossible.
It all comes down to whether DeVos wants a relationship with public school stakeholders or just a photo op.
The preponderance of DeVos evidence to date points to a photo op motive.
DeVos needs to decidedly own as much if she truly wants a relationship with the nation’s public schools.
Slightly modified version originally posted 02-10-17 at deutsch29.wordpress.com.
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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two additional books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.