Y’all, Betsy needs a re-do for 2017.
She needs a Super Nintendo reset button. You know, the one you hit right before you’re about to lose in a level you’ve been trying to beat for the last eight hours of your day, and if you let it get to the “Game Over” screen you have to start from the beginning, and then you’d have to fight the urge to throw the controller through your television screen? One of those.
It would be an understatement to say that the words and actions of Betsy DeVos are under heavy scrutiny.
Every syllable of every word she mutters is under inspection. The public is holding the microscope, eyes pressed against the glass peering through its lens with the precision of a microbiologist, searching for cell patterns or genetic blemishes that prove she is exactly whom we all think she is: An out-of-touch billionaire whom purchased her position, further enabling her sick obsession for the privatization of school, and whose incompetence will lead to the demise of the United States’ public education system and possibly the end of world as we know it.
And she knows this.
She has received an overwhelming amount of public criticism. This is why I am dumbfounded by her recent statements, and not surprised by the response she has received. This is what Betsy had to say after her recent visit to Jefferson Academy in Washington D.C., and their response on Twitter:
— Jefferson Academy (@JATrojans) February 18, 2017
Like c’mon Betsy – this is what you chose to say?
“Receive mode” might be one of the most disrespectful ways I’ve heard educators be described. It paints them as being passive. Uninvolved. Indifferent. Idle. DeVos lacks the context to make such a discourteous statement. Schools are already apprehensive of DeVos coming to visit, and this is exactly why.
Betsy had a chance to prove us wrong, and she blew it. This was her chance to communicate her commitment to working in partnership with public schools; to show that she was taking steps to better understand the unique challenges that are specific to schools in Washington D.C; to communicate her relentless support of educators and students; to humble herself and break bread with the other 99 percent.
This was a miss for Betsy.
Here is what the former Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, Kaya Henderson, had to say about it:
Sorry lady. Tried to give you the benefit of the doubt. But this is so amateur and unprofessional that it's astounding. We deserve better. https://t.co/qOABdRlxi5
— Kaya Henderson (@HendersonKaya) February 18, 2017
Betsy also has to be careful in the way she engages institutions of higher learning. Recently, there have been many talks about presidential executive orders that specifically addressed Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Earlier this month, DeVos visited Howard University, which raised the eyebrows of many people, including some of its students. Following the visit, this statement was release by students at the university:
"The time is always now."
These are our demands:
— ConcernedStudentsHU (@HUResist) February 13, 2017
This post contained language that seemed to be a direct response to DeVos’ visit.
“To allow Donald Trump onto our campus is a direct threat to the sanctity of our safe space, therefore, he should not, at any point, be allowed on this campus. Additionally, we demand that the University provided a 24 hours’ notice and full disclosure of any interaction with the Trump administration…we cannot justify accepting additional funds from an administration that inherently hinders the pursuit of Black liberation.”
DeVos has a great deal of work ahead of her as the Secretary of Education. She needs to seize opportunities that allow her to build trust with educators and families across the country, and is off to a rocky start.