Betsy DeVos was blocked by protestors from entering a DC public school. That action could be a symbol of saying NO to a Secretary of Education entering a public school for the first time in her life. That action could be a symbol of saying NO to a Secretary of Education who does not understand what it means to learn and what it means to teach. That action could be a symbol of saying NO to a Secretary of Education who does not know how to maximize learning and support good teaching.
But physical blocking is not the answer. It doesn’t take us far enough.
We need actions that say NO to whatever Betsy DeVos tells us to do that undermines what we know is in the best interests of students. We can start right now by:
• As parents, teachers, and school administrators, show up at local school board meetings and legislative hearings on local and state budgets and say NO to public tax money being given to privately managed charter schools which have no accountability to the public about how they spend the taxpayer money taken away from 85% of the nation’s children who are in traditional public schools.
• As parents, opt your children out of standardized tests because they do not assess learning and take valuable learning time away from students as they prepare for those tests, which are roads to nowhere.
• As school administrators, conduct professional development for teachers about what it means to teach and what it means to learn. Familiarize teachers with the skills that students need to develop as learners and thinkers in order to succeed in the world of work and live productive and fulfilling lives.
• As school administrators, tell teachers about the research which proves, without a doubt, that standardized tests are unreliable and invalid measures of student learning.
• As school administrators, tell teachers to ignore the demands of the standardized tests and commission them to work together to create meaningful curriculum, firmly grounded in an understanding of how children and adolescents learn. Throw out the Common Core because it is not based on any understanding of how children and adolescents learn.
• As teachers, continue to grow in love of your profession and love of your students and ignore what the U.S. Department of Education says and does.
• As citizens, address poverty and racism in your community and state – and see public education as the solution it has always been.
And that’s just for starters. We have the whole enterprise of U.S. education to run. There’s no one else. Only us. Let’s get busy.