There is a call to action from citizens to urge their Senators to vote not to confirm President-Elect Trump's nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. You can join the effort here. I wrote a letter to my Senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. I've decided to make it an open letter by also publishing it here.
UPDATE 30 JANUARY
More effective than writing letters, though, is to actually call your Senators' offices. Letters can be ignored, but phones have to be answered! You can find your state's Senators' contact numbers on the official Senate website's directory here. As of this update, only three more Senators are needed to commit to rejecting DeVos's confirmation. It's doable, but the clock is ticking!
I am a constituent who grew up in Oldham County. Our schools have been fantastic, to the point of leading numerous families to defect from Louisville to see that their children had the best possible education opportunity they could provide.
I went on to complete my bachelor's studies at the University of Louisville, where I was one of only nine students in my graduating class to major in history and graduate cum laude or better. I saw time and again while I was in those classrooms that my education in Oldham County had brilliantly prepared me for college.
At times, I have certainly felt sorry for my fellow Kentuckians who didn't have the same opportunity I enjoyed. There is no question whatsoever that our education system has room for improvement.
To that end, like several of my closest friends, I intended to go into teaching myself. As I was preparing for my senior year at UofL, though, I developed Crohn's disease. I quickly learned that it isn't compatible with the classroom even as a student, and I was dissuaded from even trying to earn my Master's, let alone becoming a teacher myself. That breaks my heart every day, I can assure you.
But I know the character and caliber of my friends and their colleagues. They *are* making a difference in their various schools, from preschool to high school, teaching math, language arts, music, social studies, science, art, and special needs. They are singularly devoted to their students, and in seeing to it that every child they teach is engaged, inspired, supported, and aided in his or her journey. It is difficult work, to be sure, which is why they need the support of a Secretary of Education who understands and appreciates the demands, responsibilities, and ambitions of that work.
I am writing you now regarding the nomination of Betsy DeVos to become our next Education Secretary.
I recognize that Mrs. DeVos has taken a keen interest in our education system, but that interest is insufficient qualification for such an instrumental posting. Like millions of other concerned citizens, I followed her confirmation hearing closely. I was dismayed by her refusal to commit to protecting the rights of disabled and LGBTQ students.
I am similarly bothered by her conspicuous avoidance when asked whether she would continue to uphold Title IX, particularly in regard to its application to address the very serious matter of campus sexual violence.
Our students deserve better than the glib "vision" that Mrs. DeVos has put forth. They deserve to attend schools that are given clear leadership and necessary support from the Education Secretary. Their teachers deserve that same leadership and support. Mrs. DeVos has demonstrated that she does not understand or value those needs, and as your constituent, I respectfully urge you to use your vote to tell the incoming President to find another nominee for the post who deserves to occupy it.
Travis S. McClain