A Washington, D.C. public school is firing back after U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos criticized its teachers for having a “receive mode” attitude.
In an interview with the conservative news site, Townhall, published on Feb. 16, DeVos expressed her belief that public school teachers are “limited by the top-down, one size fits all approaches, either at the school level, the district level, the state level, or in all too many cases, the federal decree.”
DeVos then referenced Jefferson Academy, which she visited on Feb. 10. She stated:
“I visited a school on Friday and met with some wonderful, genuine, sincere teachers who pour their heart and soul into their classrooms and their students and our conversation was not long enough to draw out of them what is limiting them from being even more success from what they are currently. But I can tell the attitude is more of a ‘receive mode.’ They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child. You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”
Protesters initially blocked the Education Secretary from entering Jefferson Academy on that day, but she ultimately made it inside and visited several classrooms. At the end of her visit, she told reporters that the school was “awesome.”
“It was really wonderful to visit this school, and I look forward to many visits of many great public schools, both in D.C. and around the country,” DeVos stated.
Needless to say, school officials were taken aback by Devos’ later comments about its teachers.
The Jefferson Academy Twitter account unleashed a tweetstorm, starting by saying they were about to take Devos “to school.” The series of 11 tweets praised the teachers DeVos met during her visit and touted their individualized approaches to teaching students.
”JA teachers are not in a ‘receive mode.’ Unless you mean we ‘receive’ students at a 2nd grade level and move them to an 8th grade level,” the last tweet reads.
Parents, educators and local officials also defended the school and criticized the Education Secretary for mischaracterizing its teachers to make a political point about federal education programs.
DeVos, who has been criticized for her lack of professional experience in public education, responded to Jefferson Academy’s tweets.
“Your teachers are awesome! They deserve MORE freedom to innovate and help students,” she tweeted.
The Education Secretary then reiterated the statements she made during her interview about government programs aimed at improving education. “Great teachers deserve freedom and flexibility, not to constantly be on the receiving end of government dictates,” she wrote.
Ultimately, Jefferson Academy is moving forward with its mission to help students in the D.C. area. The school is using its time in the spotlight to share job listings and promote some teachers’ projects that need funding.
The school account tweeted, “If you’re in a giving spirit, they’re in ‘receive mode.’ :)”