Dear Secretary DeVos,
I just read in the news that your yacht was vandalized. Not only was it a yacht, but reports say that it was a $40 million “super yacht.” Yikes. I really do hope that authorities find whoever untied the boat from the dock and punish them appropriately. America should be a place where our yachts are free from this kind of thing. Thankfully you have nine more yachts to meet your needs during this difficult period.
Reading about your yacht troubles made me curious to see what you’ve been up to lately. The news is a constant barrage of government officials doing all sorts of things to get themselves in the news; meeting with Russians, aggravating allies, implementing tariffs that will cost my state up to $624 million (https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/business/2018/06/15/donald-trump-china-tariff-trade-war-economic-impact-iowa-businesses/680940002/), and all sorts of other stuff that makes it hard for the Department of Education to find it’s way into the news.
In doing a little bit of reading I discovered that you’ve actually been pretty busy. Just this week you have laid out plans to make it much easier for for-profit colleges to take advantage of students (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/26/us/politics/betsy-devos-for-profit-colleges.html). The previous administration wanted these for-profit schools to prove that they were honest to students about their ability to prepare them for future careers. But not the DeVos Department of Education. You are actively doing all you can to make sure that these for-profit institutions have no accountability and no transparently as they prey on vulnerable students. None of this is really surprising given that you have hired the Dean of DeVry “University” to lead these efforts. Notably, DeVry has been often called out for misleading students about job prospects and was fined $100 million in recent years over these allegations. So, yeah, you and your crack staff have been busy making sure that there is a profit to be made on the backs of college students who are getting shafted. Those yachts don’t pay for themselves…am I right?
It is also clear that your Department of Education has been busy trying to make itself less busy. In April the Office of Civil Rights began dismissing hundreds of cases https://www.newsweek.com/betsy-devos-civil-rights-missions-939638). The Department of Education has been sued by civil rights organizations for dismissing complaints that it deems to be burdensome. While the Office of Civil Rights is concerned about how overloaded they are with civil rights complaints, they have found some time to dedicate considerable investigatory resources into whether schools like Yale and the University of Southern California are discriminating against men. That seems about right. While the Department of Education is making sure that Yale has enough room for dudes, advocates like Marcie Lipsitt from Michigan are having complaints about fair access for deaf and blind students dismissed. To be fair, most young deaf and blind students probably don’t have yachts to worry about, while male graduates of Yale are much more likely to have yacht problems. Only those who have experienced “super yacht” problems are likely to understand why we need to protect the civil rights of yacht owners and future yacht owners.
All of this is going on while you continue to advocate for more public dollars to spent on for-profit charter schools. This is in the face of research that all of the advantages that are supposed to be gained by attending a private school disappear when socio-demographic characteristics are factored in (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/07/26/no-private-schools-arent-better-at-educating-kids-than-public-schools-why-this-new-study-matters/?utm_term=.371c8ff78ae7). You have called public schools a “dead end,” when nothing could be farther from the truth. America’s public schools are the best hope for ALL students to grow, learn, and prepare for the future. Public school teachers aren’t interested in turning a profit, public school teachers are coming to school each and every day to help ALL students learn, and public school teachers don’t make a single decision that is impacted by who may or may not have access to a yacht.
In December of 2016 I wrote this to you, “Once we introduce you to the young Bosnian kid who translates letters home to his parents, the kid living out of the family car who does homework with only a street light to illuminate his textbook, the kid who wants to be sure their school offers great music courses, a world language program, and some advanced courses, and the special education student who loves spending part of their day with their peers, we think that you will fall in love with our public schools.” It doesn’t seem like you’ve been introduced to these kids yet. You seem to continue to dedicate yourself to the yacht owners of our country. Until you get to know the real students, parents, and staff that inhabit our public schools and those who strive to get a college education with limited resources, I’m not sure you’ll understand why those of us who are dedicated to excellent public schools are so angry.
Well, I hope your yacht gets fixed up OK. School starts here in about a month and I am eager to meet up with my colleagues to talk about meeting the needs of the kids getting ready to walk in our doors. Our students deserve the best we can give them and I know that the colleagues I am blessed to work with are up to the challenge.
Patrick J. Kearney