Support for teachers is needed now more than ever

In this Feb. 8, 2017 file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks at the Education Department in Washington. The country’s new education chief got off to a rocky start with a dogged segment of the school universe, families of disabled children, when she admitted to being confused by a question at her confirmation hearing about a key federal law that has governed special education since 1975. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

Exactly one week ago, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, a 51-50 vote confirmed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and, for the first time in history, a cabinet nominee has been confirmed through the use of the Vice-president’s tie-breaking vote. Ever since DeVos’s nomination, there has been a lot of outspoken protest toward her nomination on the grounds that she is not qualified to lead public schools because she has only worked in charter schools. There are also many people who criticize her nomination because she supposedly earned her nomination by donating to Donald Trump’s campaign. Regardless of how DeVos got nominated for the position, she is now the Secretary of Education. While many people believe her acceptance of the position is the death of the Department of Education, I believe her acceptance is why we need public school teachers more than ever.

Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as Secretary of Education is an affront to all public school teachers in America. Her blind support of charter schools is detrimental to the many public schools they replace or cut funding to. During her confirmation hearing, DeVos has shown she is in no way qualified to actually run the department. She has little to no understanding of any of the education terminology related to running the department nor does she understand any of the laws associated with protecting student and teacher interests from being grabbed up. Also, she seems to think schools need to gun to fight off bears.

As much of an affront DeVos is to public education in America, this is not the time to be backing down. Ever since Trump won the White House, there has been protest after protest to keep him from doing what he promised to do during his campaign. The same should happen with DeVos.

“I think her confirmation has really emboldened those who believe in the value of public education to stand up and protest her future policies and decisions,” Alyssa MacLean, an English teacher at Robert E. Fitch High School, said.

Instead of placing our trust in Betsy DeVos to do something good for the schools in America, we should instead place our trust in the teachers.

“What Betsy DeVos represents is how naive people are to the actual problems in public school,” former Groton Public Schools music teacher Stephanie Jasenak said. And she is totally right. DeVos and her supporters are totally removed from the struggles students are facing.

You know who does know what struggles students are facing? The teachers who are actually in the classroom every single day. The people on the front lines of the education battle are the teachers who work with students and deal with the struggles of public education. Teachers are facing budget cuts in school and buying their own school supplies and DeVos is buying her seat into the presidential cabinet.

Teachers play an important role in the development of the skills that the next generation will need to survive in this world and lead this country. Teachers are the ones who help shape the next generation of lawyers, doctors, politicians and community organizers. They inspire students to go into careers they would have never considered and inspire students to study things that might be ignored. Teachers help students who are normally ignored and told they can’t do something find their strengths and reach for new heights. Teachers help build our future every single day. If it wasn’t for my two math teachers in high school I would have never considered going into actuarial science. If it wasn’t for my English teacher my senior year of high school, I would not have considered writing for this newspaper. My music teachers inspired me to try-out for the UConn orchestra, something I would have never considered without their help.

I am just one of millions of students across this country who have been influenced by public school teachers. As dark as the future seems for the public school system in America, now is not the time to back down or give up. The light that will guide us into the future is the support that we put into our public school teachers. Support and trust for them is now needed more than ever.


Amar Batra is a senior staff photographer and opinion’s staff columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email amar.batra@uconn.edu. He tweets at @amar_batra19.