Sick, sick, and sick.....I can’t find one redeeming quality about a cold. All this, and Led Zeppelin’s “Sick Again” plays on repeat in my head. Day Three, and I’m still stuffed up – trying to get better before next week, because my dance card is full, with work and music lessons.
So, I’m taking a stab at cranking out a column, and I thought about it, and good golly, there’s a lot of stuff to write about, isn’t there? So I pick... hmmm, the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary Of Education. Given all the other shenanigans that are happening in Washington this week, this looked to be a heap o’ hopping fun. I can’t recall any recent cabinet appointee getting the reception that DeVos got at that Washington D.C. Public school. At least she’s getting to know where some folks stand, in very short order – wowee.
Frankly, I will admit, when I heard DeVos was up for appointment, my antenna went up. Businesswoman, philanthropist, activist, and a noted campaign contributor, DeVos didn’t attend a public high school, nor did her children. Okay, if you were hiring someone to run your auto parts store, and they couldn’t tell a crankshaft for a ‘68 GTO, as opposed to an ‘87 Mustang, you might have a little cause for concern. I know, it’s painted with a broad brush, but you get it. A couple of red flags there, plus that during a question and answer session, DeVos didn’t really know what the special education field is in the K-12 system. A little concern there, naturally.
DeVos is a proponent of school vouchers, which gives parents another opinion, government funded I believe, to send their children to a tuition-based school. DeVos has initially stated she believes in handing back power to the states to control their school systems. This could be good, and bad, depending on which state you’re living in, and what they decide to do with their school systems. So, on top of the heightened hysteria that people are envisioning as the dystopian, autocratic future of the United States, we get visions of our schools getting more unbalanced, and turned upside down. Add to the freakout of the “left,” I guess, with gloating glee from the “right” of finally, FINALLY by gosh getting rid of those leftists, and socialists screwing around with our kids (with one Facebook post gleefully saying the Democratic Party, teacher’s unions, teachers, and teachers were all aligned together in some vast conspiracy. At least that’s what I took from it. I’ll tell that to my teacher buddies who voted for Trump). Brother, just cool it, people, COOL IT. First, let’s get a few things straight. The special education website at the Office of Special Education home page is down, but it will be back on-line, so just ease back a bit, and hold off. Next, logic stands that you won’t, and can’t dismantle an entire educational system in a year, four years, or eight years. One thing our system of government offers is a lot of checks and balances, something The Donald, darn it, sorry, President Trump is finding out about – a lot of checks and balances. And finally, Mrs. DeVos is getting the picture quick, and straight away where a lot of the U.S. population stands on education. Could it use some revision? Sure, no department runs perfectly – if you’re looking for that, you’re looking for Bobby Flay’s crunchburger.
So, in essence, we need to see what DeVos has in store for our school systems. The problem is that there is speculation, a lot of speculation, and not enough evidence yet. So, our fears are heightened, as with everything that’s happening in our government at this point. Personally, I have some skin in the game – I hope my substitute teacher gigs keep up. I also have friends who are teachers, who are more than concerned, so there’s some worry. Sorry, but I would not speak the truth if I didn’t lay this out there. Now, more observations from where I stand – being in at least five schools on any given day during the course, of the school year, I am privy to a lot of observation, talk, and information. We have some fine school districts in, and around Storm Lake, and like any other business, face issues and problems daily. Like any organization, there are employees who are committed, concerned, and subject to praise and criticism every day they set foot in the school room. You want to talk about Trump’s portion of his inaugural address where he stated we had an “education system flush with cash?” One school employee laughed, the day I was working at their school, and had mentioned this statement. Can you blame them on that one? Attend a school board meeting anywhere, and see how this plays out. Justifiably, most departments always need something.
To wrap up – special education in America has come a long, long way, with improvements to teaching special needs kids every day. I feel strongly about this one, because I’ve worked with teachers and kids in this department for almost six years, and the teachers earned every penny, every day, here. Every penny, every day – that’s a quote, kiddos. Please handle with the utmost discretion here, Mrs DeVos.
America has been on pins and needles since day one of the new administration, this is just one of the many programs we have to get in line for to see what happens. But as the president proposes, I sure as blazes hope it turns out well for those America’s who deserve it, and need it.