Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says she wants to empower teachers to make them great. Detroit teacher Stephanie Griffin isn’t buying it…
By Stephanie Griffin When teachers in Detroit organized sick-outs last year, we weren’t in *receive mode,* as Betsy DeVos would say, waiting to be told what to do. The protests came about because no one would listen: not the school district, not our union, not our political representatives, and not the state that has been running the Detroit Public Schools for nearly two decades, during which conditions for teachers and students have gotten progressively worse. And our protests weren’t *sponsored and carefully planned.* My school, Cass Tech, is one of the best schools in the city, but teachers here believe in solidarity, and we knew that our only hope of drawing attention to the plight of teachers and students in Detroit was to join the protests. So we joined in, along with teachers from 90 other schools, and we ended up getting national attention.
After teachers at the Washington DC school Betsy DeVos visited last week challenged her depiction of them, she clarified her remarks and tried to paint herself as a champion of teacher voice and empowerment. Don’t believe it for a minute. DeVos is a champion of diminishing teacher voice and above all, weakening teacher unions. That’s why the politicians she funds were so quick to try to take teacher certification from teachers who participated in the *sick outs.* Public school teachers still have unions, which means you can’t just run roughshod over them. If DeVos and her allies can’t take our unions away from us, what they can do is try to come up with new ways to silence us. What teacher who loses his or her certification is going to choose to remain in the profession?
As for DeVos claiming she just wants to empower teachers, don’t believe that either. The goal is to have teachers who do what they’re told to do, even when the directives don’t make sense. They want robots. In the charter schools that DeVos wants more of, teachers are overwhelmingly *at will* employees, meaning that they can be dismissed for any reason, including Actions Speak Louder than Words – Have You Heard: