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Betsy Devos Is Going to Destroy Education for My Son

 About me:  I have been staring at these words for three hours and still can't figure out what to write!  Why is this so hard?!  It's about me for God's sake I know who I am!  My name is Rachel Ulriksen.  I'm a third grade teacher, girl ...

My son is going to be left behind in Betsy Devos's education plan

I’m not arrogant enough to tell you I “know” what Betsy DeVos is going to do to our public education system but I can tell you what she has planned for it: destruction. And yes I’ve done my homework on this because I’m a teacher and the parent of a disabled child and her appointment affects me more than it does most people.

After looking at what her changes have done to Michigan, it's clear her intention is: “Public education is a disgrace in this country. Even if it could be fixed, which it can’t, it would cost too much.”  Remember folks, our country is being run like a business now.   “So I’ll be making no attempt whatsoever to repair the current system. I’m going to destroy it and build something new, something that will actually work.”

Here’s her plan in a nutshell: She’s going to siphon money from the public school system to support charter schools and offer vouchers to people who want religious education. In the next few years we'll see new charter schools and religious institutions popping up everywhere, especially in the inner cities. The parents of “perfect” children are going to have more options about where their child is educated. The quality of public school education will decline as the quality of private education increases.

More: An open letter to my Republican friends, regarding Betsy Devos

And she’ll be able to prove it! Unlike the charter and religious schools (who will be beholden to no one) the public schools will still be subject to the common core standards and standardized testing. Since the majority of the population will be special needs children and the children of parents who don’t give a shit, those test scores will be abysmal. She’ll be in the perfect position to say, “Why look at these scores! It’s awful isn’t it? I told you public education doesn’t work. You should really take advantage of the school choice you’ve been extended by yours truly. You don’t want your child languishing in one of those horrid public schools.”

She’s a cold-hearted bitch but she’s a genius. If she wasn’t poised to destroy my son’s educational career I might actually like her. She’s unabashed in her beliefs and makes no apology for them.In a very short time, if she gets her way, the majority of “perfect” children will be enrolled in a charter or religious school and public education will cease to exist for anyone except:

1. The disabled population

2. Children who were expelled from their private school

3. The children of parents who don’t care about their child’s education

So what can someone like myself do about this injustice? Nothing. I’m fucked, pure and simple. The ADA ensures my son will receive a free and appropriate education complete with all the services outlined in his IEP but he will be cut off from the regularly developing children who have taught him ALL his social skills and filled his life with joy and friendship. They will trickle away, one by one, and as they head off to their new schools Kevin will ask me, “I go too?”

More: We still alternate between acceptance and anger about our son with special needs

I found out she’d been confirmed during my PREP today at school and I started to cry but got myself together quickly. They came back from computers literally foaming at the mouth over the penguin documentary I’d promised and prepared them for the fact that in the documentary the penguins have to make their way through a heard of sea lions and a few of them don’t make it.

These penguins approach the pack of sea lions and work as a team to confuse them so that the majority of the pack can make their way through the maze. If you’re slow, confused, or new to the game you fall behind and get eaten. This is necessary for the elite to make their way through and mate. The penguins who fall behind, the ones being eaten, are a necessary distraction for the others to make their way through. By the time the race is over only the strongest, smartest, craftiest penguins have made it to the end.

More: My son had to be restrained at school for his violent behavior

The director of this documentary really gets you though. This one penguin, furiously trying to keep up, was inches from the clearing when he was snatched up by a sea lion. He was so close.

The class got it. It’s nature. Nothing personal. Gotta trim the fat. Survival of the fittest, all except for one girl, B. I pulled her outside while the class packed up.

B: They left him behind. Why did they do that?!

Me: They were doing what was best for them, honey. What was best for the pack.

B: How is that best for the pack?! They could have let him in on the trick, they could have gone back for him! Those penguins in the front they were so smart and fast they could have found a way! They just let him go Mrs. Ulriksen, they didn’t even look back!

I tried to explain that this was the reality of nature, that it wasn't fair, that it was ugly and selfish. Before long, we were both crying.

B: They all wanted the same thing and they let that poor bird just go because he was slow it wasn’t his fault. He tried his best! I don’t want a world where penguins leave other penguins behind just because it’s what’s best for the best to make it through to the end.

I told her I hoped for that world too.

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