By: Anano Kapanadze
For Murrow teachers, the confirmation of Betsy DeVos on February 7TH as the Secretary of Education has been nothing short of controversial.
While some teachers said they were willing to give Ms. DeVos a chance, the majority were angered over her views on school vouchers and school choice in addition to her lack of educational experience.
“We are choosing people to sit in positions they know nothing about, how is that supposed to make the system better?” said Ms. Terriann Reeves, Communication Arts teacher.
Communication Arts teacher Mr. Scott Charles Austin agreed: “I personally don’t believe anyone who has never taught, should be in charge of education.”
History teacher Ms. Elizabeth Mazzini said she’s worried about the cuts to education. She doesn’t like the idea of giving school vouchers for families to go to private schools.
“There are still inequalities but if you start giving vouchers to private schools I think that will make inequalities much worse,” she said. “And that will take money away from public school budgets which by the way is like .1 % of the federal budget it’s so small already, that’s nothing you need to cut its already tiny.”
UFT Chapter Chairperson and speech teacher Ms. Charlene Tuff said that why should Ms. DeVos tear down an institution that can help children who don’t necessarily have the access.
“There’s nothing wrong with a public education,” she said. “There’s diversity, that’s why I believe in public schools.”
Ms. Tuff said she does not have a problem with private schools, her problem is with charters, Betsy DeVos and also the voucher system. She added that one system is being torn down to promote another.
“When I went to Catholic school, my parents paid for that,” she said. “There was a struggle then but they paid for it. People do have choices, it’s not that she’s giving them a choice that they don’t already have. But why take money out of a pocket of an institution that is for everybody. That’s my problem with Betsy, that and her lack of education in the field of education.”
Mr. John Kivney, a history teacher, said he agrees with some of Ms. DeVos’s ideas, which includes the voucher system.
“I am a believer in school choice and if Ms. DeVos is pushing for a voucher system that would allow people to go to the schools that they want based on the tax credits from the government I am supportive of that,” said Mr. Kivney. “That increases competition amongst students and it would lead to people perhaps being less apathetic towards their studies.”
Spanish teacher Ms. Josephine Martingano said she has mixed feelings about DeVos, but wants to give her a chance.
“I know that she is more for charter schools and private schools in which maybe you get more recourses at those schools, there are smaller classes and you have less discipline problems,” she said. “However, that doesn’t mean that the public schools don’t work.”
Ms. Reeves said that she’s not willing to give her a chance.
“You can’t say ‘We the People’ if you don’t understand’ the people’” says Reeves.