Dear Betsy, It’s Time For You to Take a Seat & Listen to the Teachers


betsy open letter

Regardless of where you stand on the debate over whether or not we should return to school in person in the fall, most of us can agree that teachers feel less than supported when it comes to Betsy DeVos. Here are a few things teachers would like for Betsy to know. 

Dear Betsy,

Teachers Are Exceptional, Not Expendable 

One in four teachers is at greater risk of serious illness if infected with Covid-19 per a Kaiser Family Foundation study. Who will teach the students when these exceptional teachers get sick? Can we count on you to take over for the first teacher who falls ill…oh wait… teaching credential…never mind.

Teachers Do More Than Teach

Before the pandemic, teachers wore many hats. We were educators, counselors, and nurses. We were cheerleaders, negotiators, and referees. Teachers across the nation stepped up in March. We became assembly line workers when we stood outside and distributed the technology and the resources our students needed for online classes. We became lunch attendants when we passed out food so our students were able to eat and learn. We quickly became IT experts when we were forced to teach from home with a day’s notice. If only we got paid for each of our titles, many of us wouldn’t need second jobs.  

We Want to Be Back in School Too

We miss our students. We miss our colleagues. We miss our school families. We would love nothing more than to be standing in our classrooms watching our students’ faces as they hit that “aha” moment of grasping a concept. Ask anyone who has spent time in a classroom (we can give you a list of references) and they will tell you about the bond between teachers and their students. However, we also have families at home we worry we might be putting in danger.

We Know a Bully When We See One 

On a daily basis, we use every teachable moment to instill kindness in our students. Teachers have become experts in identifying bullying behavior from a mile away. From online hatefulness to playground tyrants to threatening to defund the budget if we don’t play by the bully’s rules, we see it all. 

Teachers Are Tired of Spending Their Own Money

In a recent study, it was shown that teachers spend an average of $459 each year on their classrooms. And that’s just the average. Many of us spend way more. As we turned our homes into classrooms in March, we were forced to use our own internet, printers, and supplies and we did so without hesitation and without complaining. Teaching is the only profession where we have to spend our own money to do our job and ensure our safety. With the defunding of schools, and the new CDC guidelines made to ensure our safety, who’s going to pay for all the sanitation supplies and PPE?

We Are Trained Professionals – Ask Us What We Think

Teachers are preparing children and young adults for life. We have been trained to do this and well over half of us have gone on to receive our Master’s Degree. We attend professional development opportunities on our own time and our own dime. We are in the trenches every day. We are an intelligent group of individuals. Ask us what we think as we would be happy to share our thoughts. 

We Deserve Real Answers

Canned answers don’t work for us. When a student asks us a question, he expects a clear answer. We expect that as well. Making vague comments in response to important questions such as, “Do you support defunding schools?” and “What is the plan when there is another Covid-19 outbreak?” is not giving real answers. 

The World Doesn’t Revolve Around Test Scores

Shocking isn’t it? The pressure put on students and teachers to achieve high test scores is astonishing. Due to Covid-19, standardized tests were halted and the world didn’t implode. We focused on social-emotional learning, real-world skills, and of course, standards. Without testing, we actually had two additional weeks to TEACH.

Teachers Are Human

We make mistakes and we learn from them. We have feelings. We are individuals. We have families. We are loyal. We put our pants on one leg at a time, though we are usually running out the door and drinking a coffee while we are doing it. We deserve respect. 

Teachers Love Their Jobs

In a recent survey, 90% of teachers reported job satisfaction. Unfortunately, only 36% of teachers feel that they are valued by society, yet we keep going back day after day. Step into any classroom, please… it’s an open invitation, and watch the magic happen. It will be evident why we put so much into a profession with such high demands and little appreciation in return.

So you see, Betsy, teachers are amazing. We are a tight-knit group of people who believe in the future of our children and we CAN make a difference one student at a time. What we need is for you to believe in us. 

Sincerely,

Teachers of the United States

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Dear Betsy, It's Time For You to Take a Seat & Listen to the Teachers

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Valerie

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Valerie is a Special Education teacher.  She loves reading, enjoying fine wines (as fine as you can get on a teacher's salary), and laughing. If she isn't in her classroom, you can find her with her feet on the pavement walking off the stress of the day or singing as loud as she can, often at the same time.

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