Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Snarky Memes or Action?

Well, it's a done deal.

Betsy Devos is the new Secretary of Education.

Against all common sense, we have a Secretary of Education that has never been a part of the Public School System in the United States.  Probably worse, we have a Secretary of Education that doesn't really know the issues relating to how to improve education within our Public Schools.  Like a Secretary of State that has never been overseas, we have a Secretary of Education that has never been in the classroom.

This seems like a really bad choice.

But since the truth is always found in the middle, and we can't spend all our days crying over spilled milk - let's consider a few things.  Not all Cabinet Secretaries have been involved in their areas (1/3 of our Defense Secretaries were never in the military).  So maybe there is something that she might be able to bring to the table that traditional educators cannot.

Again, I am not a supporter of any administration or political view - I am just trying to help us see that maybe there is something we can focus on that is positive rather than doom and gloom . . .

First - The Secretary of Education does not dictate what your kid learns.  This is what the Department of Education does:

1.) It gives out financial aid.
2.) It collects educational data.
3.) It identifies education issues.

Your school board tells the kids what books to read and what math to study and so on.  DeVos really has little reach into your kids' classroom.  

Feeling a little better?

So what does she bring to the table?  What can DeVos do and do well?

Well - she loves vouchers.  She loves helping Charter Schools get funding so people have options when Public Schools are failing.

Consider this . . .

In 1999, the Los Angeles School District was struggling - graduating 50% of its students.  Green Dot was a brand new charter school that started up with just 140 students.  It revolutionized education in LA.  Between 2000 and 2005, Green Dot opened 5 schools in the toughest crime-ridden areas of LA.  All five of these schools received honors from U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek as among the Best Schools in the Country.  The students in these schools rank among the top 2.5% in the country.  Green Dot currently has over 11,000 students and most are performing within the top 5% nationally.  Read more here.  

Green Dot is one of many Charter Schools in America that are changing how we educate.  

Now I need to say, there are a ton of things that Public Schools are doing well - and many of these things are being done in coordination with creative charter-school influence.  I also need to say I am not a public school teacher and far from an expert in education.

I am just looking for the sliver of light in all of this.

Maybe we all can look for it.  Like you, I am tired of the, "everything is horrible and we'll never get out of this mess" stuff.  Or, "I'm just so scared about the future of this country."  Stop with the fear - let's move on with action.  Can we take what we didn't ask for and work with it to get what we all want?  My guess is that positive energy will get you more than a well-done snarky meme.

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