Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Open Letter to Senators Scott and Graham

I try to stay away from the political on here. However, after reading Senator Scott's comments today when voting yes to send Mrs. DeVos nomination forward to the full Senate, I wrote him a real life letter, that I am going to print and snail mail to him, plus I have e-mailed it to him and to Senator Graham (whose letter is only slightly different).

I wasn't going to share it here, then I figured, it's my blog, I can complain if I want to, and who knows, maybe one of their staffers will be Google searching for their names and come across it (doubtful, but hey it's worth a shot.)


Patricia L. Cleveland

Senator Tim Scott
520 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

January 31, 2017
Senator Scott,
I am writing to you today to express my extreme displeasure and dissatisfaction with your decision to vote for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I am a South Carolina resident, and educator with over 20 years of experience in this field, and unlike your implication, I did my research on Mrs. DeVos before picking up the phone and sending you e-mails about the fact that she is unqualified. Which by the way I have noticed that you have chosen to not respond to.
In your statement, today in the HELP committee, you implied that teachers and other concerned citizens of South Carolina are basically too dumb to have done our research on Mrs. DeVos, and that we do not understand how the position of Secretary of Education works. I assure you Mr. Scott, I have done my research, and I do know how it works! I am still gravely concerned! Mrs. DeVos has too many private investments in companies that are out to run education to be considered a good Secretary of Education. As I know you are aware, she must divest of over 100 business interests to even take office. However, no one can answer the question of if her family also must divest of these interests. I do not know why any of us ever thought that you would listen to the people of South Carolina, whom you represent, considering how much money you took from Mrs. DeVos and her family. My question is why is a Senator from South Carolina taking $50,000 in campaign money from a family in Michigan, if not to ensure his yes vote on her nomination?
Instead of “school choice”, how about this novel idea, we properly fund all schools in South Carolina, and across America, so that teachers aren’t purchasing school supplies out of their own pockets, and EVERY child gets an equal education? I personally spend over $200 a month on average for supplies for my classroom.
Instead of “school choice”, how about we pay teachers a living wage? Then maybe, we can dedicate all our energy to providing a better education for the children of America, rather than having to work two and three jobs just to make ends meet and pay our student loans.
Instead of “school choice”, how about we work from the ground up and get into the communities of the poorer neighborhoods and offer education programs that help all the residents of those areas?
Instead of “school choice”, how about we lower class sizes, so that the teachers can concentrate on each child’s individual needs?
Instead of “school choice”, let’s look at bullying, and school violence, and come up with real solutions instead of blaming the teachers.
Here are my questions for you, and the advocates of “school choice”:
How are the economically disadvantaged students who want to attend a “school of choice” going to get to and from the school? I’ve worked in the 100% free lunch, Title I schools that you claim you can improve by offering “school choice”, and Mr. Scott, you are so wrong. Do you not realize that many of those families would have no way to transport their child to the “better school”? The parents that have transportation, use that transportation to get to and from work, they don’t have the time or the money to drive 20 miles to the “better school”.
If you propose offering “vouchers” for students in underperforming schools to attend their “school choice”, who is going to make up the difference in cost?
If a child is on an individualized education plan, or a behavior management plan, are the “school choice” schools going to be made to accept them?
What happens when there is an issue with behavior with a student? Is the “school choice” school going to be made to “deal with it” or are they going to be allowed to kick the child out?
What checks and balances regarding the quality of education that “school choice” schools are offering will be in place?
Did you know that teachers on average have over $30,000 in student loan debt (approximately $450 a month repayment), and only earn about $32,000 a year as a first-year teacher in South Carolina? Did you know that to keep our certification current teachers must take a minimum of two graduate level courses (six credit hours, at approximately $1,602.00 per class at USC) every five years, adding to our debt? Did you know that most of us have advanced degrees beyond our bachelors, so that we can advance our students knowledge through our own research, and the “raises” we get for obtaining these advanced degrees does not compensate for the costs?
I am greatly concerned over the future of American Education with people like Mrs. DeVos in position of power such as Secretary of Education. I wish that you would take the time to sit down with those of us that are in the field of education, and on the front lines fighting this battle every day, and LISTEN to what we have to say and our concerns.

Sincerely,
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