If you’ve accepted my invitation to imagine a Secretary of Education for America’s Children and a Secretary of Education for the Public’s Schools, you may wonder what led me to (perhaps somewhat wildly) fantasize a person holding that office who is moved by the gravity of the responsibility to act wisely and forcefully as the first and highest advocate for our children, their learning, and their well being.
The idea of imagining possibilities came to me as I prepared for a radio interview with Dan Angelo, whose Education Today has for 25 years provided a forum for in-depth conversations about critical issues in education. Mr. Angelo asked me to speak about the implications for our schools should DeVos be able to enact her stated agenda of dismantling the public’s schools and shifting our tax dollars to private religious schools, corporate charters and online “education” companies.
Needless to say, doing my homework for the interview was not pleasant. The more I read about the damage DeVos left behind in Ohio (including having to pay fines for violations of campaign laws) and Michigan (charters with dismal records of student learning, in close proximity to the now closed or marginalized public schools), the more I feared for America’s children and for the future of the vital role our public education system has played in creating and, to now, sustaining our democracy.
I was dismayed to read the ways that DeVos and other privatizers trick the public by claiming that private schools that take our money (through direct tax dollars to charters or indirectly through vouchers) are “public schools.” Nope and nope. The obfuscating terminology, the wholesale attacks on all public schools, the blaming of teachers and schools that have been starved for resources – the DeVos record was painful for what it’s done and frankly terrifying for what she plans to do as a member of the Cabinet under a president who himself is hostile to public goods and public institutions of all kinds.
You can read my interview that “homework” produced. I talk with Dan Angelo, host of EducationToday on Quartermoon Radio, about what Betsy DeVos hopes to do to our public schools:
You’ll see why the more I learned about DeVos, the more I kept imagining what would someone do as Secretary of Education who had, to paraphrase Albert Schweitzer, a reverence for children’s lives, a weighty sense of obligation to their schools and to the democracy we’ve promised they’ll grow up in. Imagining an alternative was an exercise in hope.
I hope you’ll add your own imaginings to my previous posts on such a Secretary of Education, and check back in a few days to see how I’m imagining a Secretary of Education for America’s teachers.