An Open letter to Betsy DeVos from America's Public School Teachers

Date Posted: 
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dear Ms. DeVos,

I don’t think we’ve really met yet, we are America’s public school teachers. There are about 3.1 million of us. We teach in large urban areas, we teach in the suburbs, we teach in small rural communities, and we teach in some really remote parts of our country. The most important thing to recognize is that we teach every kid who shows up. We don’t pick and choose the types of kids that we will teach, we teach ALL of them.

Because we haven’t really had much interaction, we thought it might be nice to share a little bit about the public schools we teach in. First of all, we are very proud of our schools. Public schools today have the highest graduation rate in American history. The Gallup Poll says that the rate of parents who are satisfied with their public school is the highest in American history. We are also very proud that our public schools offer more services to students with low socioeconomic backgrounds and special education needs than ever before. Not to be redundant, but we are proud that we serve ALL of the students in our communities.

Our communities are very important to us. We are taxpayers in our local communities and many of us have children of our own who attend the public schools that we teach in. We care deeply that our schools are safe and that they are providing a rigorous and relevant curriculum to EVERY student who walks in the door. We recognize that each of our communities have different needs and sometimes get frustrated with a “one size fits all” mentality.

We also know that our public schools face real challenges. 22 percent of U.S. public school students live in poverty, 50 percent more than the next highest industrialized nation. English is a second language to almost 10 percent of the students we serve. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has fallen more than 10 percent in the last 10 years. We are challenged to keep up with increasing state and federal mandates regarding standardized testing.

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