Friday, May 15, 2020

Small Things: Secretary DeVos, Twitter and Teachers Vs. Charters

For quite a while, National Charter School Self-Promotion Week was scheduled for the first week in may-- the same week that the PTA had, for decades, scheduled Teacher Appreciation Week. Last year somebody finally decided that maybe that wasn't the greatest idea and moved Charter Week to the second week in May. So we're just wrapping that lovefest up today.

Coincidentally, I recently broke down and started following the Betsy DeVos Twitter account, and I was curious how those back-to-back celebrations looked. There's nothing unexpected or earth-shattering here. Just one of those little data points.

DeVos on Teacher Appreciation Week.

On Monday afternoon, DeVos retweeted the official USED tweet that offered teachers "virtual hugs." DeVos added her own comment:

Teachers, thank you for all you are doing for your students to keep them learning and connected during this national emergency. Your dedication and commitment to the success of our nation’s students is truly inspiring!

She also retweeted a thank you tweet from Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, tea party buddy of Mike Pence, whose support for public education is legendary in the same way that Bigfoot is legendary-- almost never seen and unlikely to be real.

On Wednesday at 7:00 AM, she tweeted out her 45 second video message, again leaning hard on the extra work that teachers are doing right now (no mention of her repeated assertion that many US schools have simply shut down).

The rest of the week was devoted to touting her new Title IX rules and to celebrating the second anniversary of FLOTUS's "Be Best" anti-bullying campaign.

This was based strictly on her "tweets" tab, but I did check "tweets and replies" to make sure I wasn't missing anything about Teacher Appreciation Week-- all I found was her responding to a thank you tweet from a Teacher of the Year who wanted to thank DeVos for a phone call that made it possible for that teacher to share how awesome Richard Corcoran is, and , well, let's not go there right now other than to say, no, it appears that he is certainly not awesome.

Charter Swellness Week

On Monday, a retweet of the White House declaration of National Charter Schools Week, quoting "During National Charter Schools Week, and every week, let us celebrate the extraordinary work of public [sic] charter schools..."

Monday she also retweeted House Ed and Labor Republicans tweet that "charter school teachers go above and beyond" and called them "unsung heroes for raising the bar."

On Wednesday, the first of several anecdotal vignettes, with a nice picture of a happy charter student and a quote from a satisfied parent all on a slide with the Department of Ed logo in the corner. Then a retweet from Virginia Foxx touting choice and in turn reposting another House Ed and Labor Republican tweet about how "charter schools are putting kids first." Then a retweet from Ted Cruz praising charters for going above and beyond. Then a retweet of Gov. Doug Ducey and his proclamation about charter week in Arizona. Then an other nice anecdote slide from the department. Then a retweet from Congresswoman Debbie Lesko celebrating charter week.

Thursday, another anecdote slide, this time singling out a cyber academy for its "academic rigor." Two hours later, another cyber charter story (cyberschool helped this student be a figure skater).

Today we started out with a slide quoting Trump expressing his support for charter schools and choice. Then a "flashback" post to a stop on her Education Freedom tour at Detroit Edison Public [sic] Academy. And a retweet of Senator Ron Johnson celebrating charters in Wisconsin.


For Teacher Appreciation Week, DeVos recorded a forty-five second thank you. For Charter Week, she had someone in the department whip up at least five slides. Three tweets/retweets for Teacher Week. For Charter Week, at least thirteen.

As I said-- nothing momentous or huge here, but in these exceedingly weird times, I think it's worth highlighting once again that we have a Secretary of Education who is not a supporter of public education or the people who work there, who is, in fact, far more excited about a privately-run system for replacing the institution that she is charged with overseeing. I can't say that it's highly abnormal, because the office has never attracted many people who really support public education, but it's still weird that when public school teachers look up at state and federal authorities, they find people who are lined up against them. It's a weird way to run a national education system.

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