My husband, Arthur Gay (deceased) and his sister Shirley Blackburn (retired) were proud public school teachers. So I was most interested to see the cover of Time magazine (as shown above) on September 13, 2018. The cover as pictured shows a teacher sitting at a classroom desk surrounded by her words in quotes: “I have a master’s degree, 16 years of experience, work two extra jobs and donate blood plasma to pay the bills. I’m a teacher in America.” It is a disgrace that this teacher and many others have to go through all these machinations to make a living. Not only that, many teachers spend their own hard-earned money to buy needed school items from pencils to books. “[t]he pay gap between teachers and other comparably educated professionals is now the largest on record,” Time reported. In Colorado, “lawmakers voted to raise teachers’ retirement age and cut benefits.”
While neither Art nor Shirley suffered the circumstances described in Time, I’m certain they would be appalled at the lack of federal government support for public schools. Especially loathsome is Trump’s appointment of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, even though she has no background in public education. In fact, she is from an elite multi-millionaire family and has never been a public school student and neither have her children. As education secretary, she often criticizes public education and favors private schools (particularly religious schools) and homeschooling.
In May 2018, DeVos was in New York City and visited private religious schools, but did not enter the door of any public school. The nation’s largest public school district is in NYC, where more than one million students attend each year. But DeVos couldn’t be bothered?! During her visit to the city, she advocated spending taxpayer money for religious education, which obviously violates the separation of government and religion. DeVos considers laws/regulations separating church and state “should be assigned to the ash heap of history.”
DeVos has also been wishy-washy on guns in schools and at her confirmation hearing declared that perhaps guns would be okay in a particular case in Wyoming where a school had erected a fence to protect kids from wild animals. DeVos opined that at that school a gun might be needed to shoot grizzlies! Yeah, let’s teach kids how to be jungle fighters. Is it any wonder that Time’s story about the dilemma of American teachers and public schools is apt?