“They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child. You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”
That’s how Betsy DeVos explained the use of “receive mode” when describing the teachers at Jefferson Middle School Academy in Washington D.C. last week.
Interesting that D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson had a totally different observation while actually accompanying DeVos on that visit.
“I’ve worked in schools for my entire professional life — as a teacher, principal, and superintendent. I have learned from much experience what it takes to prepare students for college success. The teaching and learning at Jefferson will put our students on a path to college, successful careers, and beyond. I see that. Our teachers see that. Our students see that. And our parents see that. Defying expectations takes experience and a lifelong dedication to all students. DCPS is rich with educators who have this experience” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/02/18/devos-criticized-teachers-at-d-c-school-she-visited-and-they-are-not-having-it/?utm_term=.abb19e34b678).
While the shock of such a blunt and apparent show of uninformed observation may sting many, it should not be that surprising that our new secretary of education would make such an observation. Why?
Because DeVos doesn’t know what the hell to look for. And privilege has clouded the lens through which she sees things.
When it comes to “receiving” and “giving,” DeVos is used to receiving the benefit of the doubt because of all the influence she buys by giving so much to those who gladly receive her “gifts” and give back to her a sense of power that she gladly receives in return so she can give stupid, vague observations like “receive mode” and expect people not to take that negatively.
DeVos’s nomination to her present post probably received the greatest public pushback of a cabinet appointee seen in quite a while. Part of that stems from the fact that she gives so much money to entities that support endeavors which receive taxpayer money like private and religious schools while the public receives no transparency. Part of that stems from the fact that she has been a big proponent of giving taxpayer money to build charter schools that don’t receive special needs students or other students based on vague requirements.
Part of that stems from the fact that DeVos simply is used to receiving what she wants because she gives (rather buys) so much money to those who gladly give her what she wants. And she wants influence and power. The following quote says it all:
“My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right.” -Betsy DeVos, 1997 op-ed
People heard that answers she gave at her confirmation hearing.
People knew that most of the republicans on the committee had received financial contributions from DeVos and her family.
People knew that the democrats on the HELP committee were not given much time to give questions to receive more glaring answers from a lady who does not give a damn about public schools.
So if anybody is in “receive mode,” it is Betsy DeVos.
She certainly gave a lot to receive her office.
What she should be willing to receive is an education about how public schools have been doing despite the obvious pressures that influence academic outcomes that schools have no control over like poverty. But that takes willingness, honesty, integrity, and humility.
And Betsy DeVos has not given much of that.