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DeVos Public School Visits: A Brief Guide

February 10, 2017

If US Ed Sec Betsy DeVos is truly interested in the goings-on at public schools, she should first contact the school and arrange a visit. DeVos should not spring a “pop-in” on stakeholders.

Admin should not surprise their faculty and students with a DeVos pop-in. Furthermore, stakeholders should not find out about an upcoming DeVos visit via leaked info.

DeVos should be certain that parents are notified and included in the visit.

The visit should occur at a time that teachers are able to interact with her. DeVos told the US Dept of Ed employees that she is a listener. Therefore, let her listen.

Stakeholders should be candid with DeVos but not ugly. Adults should model respectful disagreement for the students who are watching and listening.

If parents and teachers decide to include students in the visit, then students should be included if they wish. However, DeVos has been major news, and some students might not trust her because they have heard that she does not care for public schools.

Schools should have the right to say no to a DeVos visit. That way, the “yes” will be genuine.

DeVos and her people should take no pictures. Let the stakeholders take the photos, if they choose.

Finally, DeVos should not make these visits if she cannot honestly assure stakeholders (parents, students, teachers) that she intends to invest in public schools. If her goal is to dismantle America’s public schools via voucher-glutting, fiscal erosion, then any attempt at assurance of DeVos investment in public schools will come across for what it is– a lie– and building trust with stakeholders will be impossible.

It all comes down to whether DeVos wants a relationship with public school stakeholders or just a photo op.

The preponderance of DeVos evidence to date points to a photo op motive.

DeVos needs to decidedly own as much if she truly wants a relationship with the nation’s public schools.

betsy-devos-10  Betsy DeVos


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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

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From → Betsy Devos

  1. Jim Falk permalink

    Your bias is certainly showing in this blog, Ms Schneider. Advance notification of a visit would only give the teachers’ union and the liberal administration more time to poison the air and for students to plan their attacks on the secretary. Ms DeVos was not my choice. I thought Mr. Trump could have done better. It is easy to see, though, that he did better than Mr. Obama in picking the head of the failed Chicago public school system to be his secretary of education. And I wonder about your use of the term “stakeholder”. The first time I heard that used was in reading about UN Agenda 21, so I naturally view with suspicion anyone who also uses it. Let’s give Ms DeVos a chance. Could she do any worse? Jim Falk, Fallon, NV

    • Even AFT Pres Randi Weingarten opposed the protest.

      Duncan and King were both awful. No disagreement there from me.

    • “Stakeholder” has been worn-out by public education debates over the last two decades.

  2. Dr. Rich Swier permalink

    You’re premise makes no sense. Secretary DeVos can visit any school she wants.

    The schools are not closed to visitors.

    Get over it.


    • My premise makes no sense to someone outside of the public school system towards which DeVos is clearly hostile. Your premise, that telling people to just “get over it,” makes no sense to me. Neither does aggressive action from protesters, including any physical blocking of school entrances.

      And yes, school admin have the right to curtail any visitor whose presence could reasonably cause disruption.

      There is a better way to go about this, and it must involve repairing trust.

      I stand by my post.

    • Ianthe permalink

      Hi Rich, You have not been in a public school recently. If you had, you would know that schools are locked for security purposes, visitors are NOT allowed access at will. This is SOP at all schools: Doors locked, visitors cannot roam at will, Admin has a right to refuse entry.

  3. Joyce Cole permalink

    For once I highly disagree. Our public school system needs fresh eyes. Announcing when and where she is going only allows for your best to be shown. Honestly, if there was no announcement then how could the protest happen? I do not believe DeVos was anyone pick, let’s see what she can do. Our children deserve the best.

    • I knew about the DeVos nomination before it happened, not because it was announced, but because it was leaked.

      A proper announcement includes offering stakeholders the right to say no. That was not done in this case.

  4. Anonymous permalink

    And so it begins…

    The first few replies sound like “contractual obligation” – a strong, immediate documented disapproval of any negative press on DeVos, intending to shut down nay-sayers.

    But you’re absolutely right – they also belie their knowledge of public schools.

    We safeguard people’s children.

    By law, we have certain protocols involving visitors and photography. Some parents have good reason to not sign the waiver allowing their child to be photographed or named in publications. Advance notice allows us to finesse visits in such a way, that the child is included in all activities, as seamlessly as possible, while also respecting the parents’ rights. If done properly, the child, other children and visitors have no idea this being “managed.” Why risk embarrassing a child, losing the trust of a parent, or inviting a lawsuit? Why not follow the protocols that help keep the school day running smoothly?

    And I won’t even start on lesson plans, cafeteria/lunch schedules, pre-scheduled fire drills, IEP meetings the administrators must sit in on, etc. Pop-ins of this magnitude require the undivided attention of the principal and office staff, at a minimum.

  5. A necessary look at common courtesy: There has been so much attention paid to how the protestors acted — but little as to how DeVos herself acted. It will be most telling to now see how DeVos handles her future visits.

  6. confused permalink

    The ONLY time anyone with any importance, school district level people, supervisors, local VIPs etc visit our school is for a photo op. Most give advance notice HOWEVER they are never on time and we count that as just a wasted day. My fellow science teacher and I had spent hours the night before and hours before school setting up a lab for students. We had to make 8 sets of chemical set ups, 8 sets of all the glassware and equipment and rearrange our tables so the labs would go as smoothly as possible. First period was fine, our visitors showed up Second. They stayed long enough that we couldn’t do the lab. They stayed through the bell and delayed Third period so no lab. If you say just have the students do it faster you don’t teach science. Fourth period was to distracted by our visitors and calming them down took too long so no lab. So some of my classes finished it. I had to clean up and then spend hours resetting it up for three classes the next day, which meant keeping the kids out of the set up and moving tables around all day for different classes. The students are too distracted, constantly watching for the visitors, for us to teach. Arranging to meet in our gym with parents, teachers and students at different times would have been wonderful. Doing a quick walk through early in the day, not coming in but peeking inside as they stroll past would be great. Most often they come in, with all sorts of other people with them, plus our Administration, SRO and our students of the month. That means in the middle of one of my classes, 15 people will walk in. My regular ed want to talk and show off, my special ed inclusion will sometimes get way too excited or startled and act out, my behavior challenged kids will do anything for attention….it is a mess. I have students who have parents who do not want their child photographed. News photographers never ask. I teach 8th grade and I have some students who totally freak out and try to put their head down, turn away or run to the other side of the room. Then if an unflattering picture is in the local paper or on TV they get mad at me or become very depressed and a target for teasing for weeks. If DeVos had actually had ANY experience with public schools and had actually been a frequent visitor she would know this. No, no one has a right to just walk in. School security is a real issue. We have all the students the charter schools do not. So she has never experienced having a group of Mild/Moderate students who always walk a specific route to the cafeteria have a CHANGE. This doesn’t go well. They become very agitated over any changes! DeVos has never experienced students on Behavior plans who welcome any opportunity to act out or do exactly the opposite of civil and polite. DeVos has not met an Autistic student who becomes mad and aggressive if approached by strangers or spoken to in an unexpected way. DeVos doesn’t know how hard our custodians work to keep the school looking good and that that students will toss trash, paper track mud and grass in so when guests are late or want to “just walk around” our custodians get blamed if the school they always keep cleaned is messed up before they can get there to clean it up. They take it personally and feel terrible. I would say it is like having someone drop in and your house isn’t as clean as you want but DeVos doesn’t have that problem because she has “staff” who do this for her. Why can’t she start by holding meetings off site for those she wants to talk to? If she really is going to support public school she needs to convince parents and educators first! She needs to show us she cares….and not lie to us. Parents and educators are very good at knowing when we are being lied to.

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