Dear Ms. DeVos:
I am pretty sure what happened the other day when, as the new U.S. education secretary, you tried to tour a public school and were met by protesters, was seen as wrong in the eyes of many of those who feel you need to know what is needed in public schools. Of course you need to know as you get your on-the-job training. (Okay–I won’t go there….)
The problem is, when you have disregarded those same folk—the students, parents and educators within those schools–for so long and now want to make amends, it’s up to you to take the appropriate steps to do so. Speaking to the families, parents, students and communities you helped stifle would be the best approach.
I am reminded of the need to always have parent voice in every plan to move forward. Ultimately families and children are the ones who will be and have been affected.
Detroit parents rode buses for hours to speak with you last year. Their goal was to have their voices counted as you counted the dollars you’d use to manipulate votes. And it was a no-go! Parents were deemed to not know what’s best for their underserved children.
Well Betsy, you’ve been selected for the highest seat to make decisions about education in the United States. If you really want change you have to backtrack, go back to the drawing board and talk to parents and children. That’s your key–that is if you really want to gain trust.
You need to hear, face to face, the stories of how a lack of accountability has destroyed neighborhoods. You need to speak with students like Dana who know all too well what has happened to make their neighborhoods school deserts.
Speak to parents like Myesha who travel hundreds of miles a week to get their children to and from school.
If you want our support need to come to us. You need to see the faces, hear the voices and have rich conversation with these families. Don’t let the protesters stop you. Sit down with the protesters, find out what their issues are and how best to move forward.
By the way, this is not to exclude conversations with staff and teachers, they too were in the fight and we count them as our family.
Hopefully your money can’t buy parent voice. But then again……
As a parent or community leader. Send us a paragraph about your Black History education moment. Reach out to us on Facebook at Detroit School Talk or on Twitter @DetroitSchlTalk.