Dear Mrs. DeVos,
First of all, I’d just like to clear the air by telling you I didn’t support the nomination or confirmation of you serving in this new and highly important role as Education Secretary for the United States of America. I’m just being honest.
But there is something I really want to tell you…I hope I’m wrong about you in this role.
I’m not one who likes to be wrong, but you see, we have the same passion. Clearly, you’re in education. So am I. Based upon your net worth, it’s hard for me to understand how you can empathize with public school teachers, students, administrators, and staff. It’s hard for me to fathom that you just may be in this for the right reasons. But you’re in education. So there’s something we can work with here.
I’m an educator, too. I worked in public education for seven years as a Special Education, Spanish, and Business teacher before I left a few years ago to focus on my doctoral degree (still in progress with my dissertation) in Special Education and help my husband during a mental health crisis. Recently, I was hired by a university and am beyond blessed and honored to be now preparing future educators to be strong advocates for the rights and learning of all students. I consider being an educator an honor and a privilege…something I take very seriously and believe God created me for. I’m a fighter because I have a passion for standing up for those who can’t easily stand up for themselves.
And I think we have that in common.
I’ve done my research and know that I can describe you using the same word my husband uses to describe me. “Firecracker.” You see, being a firecracker has always been both my greatest weakness and ultimate strength at the same time. I’ve had to learn to channel my passion into a solid foundation for achieving my ultimate goal – to be a strong and informed advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities and all students in the public school systems. So I’m not going to lie, hearing that you did not know what IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) is left me extremely concerned. IDEA is all students with disabilities have in public schools; it’s our lifeline. And it’s crucial that you know this federal law up and down, left and right, backward and forward. I’m begging you, and so are our students. Please inform yourself on all matters of public education.
I am not in disagreement with you on the importance of private schools, but there is a place for both public and private schools in the United States. Frankly, both systems are broken in different ways and are in need of mending. So please know that I want to be wrong about you. I want you to succeed. I want you to figure out a way to help, not harm, both private and public school systems. Do not take funds from one to give to another; in doing so, you create more problems that are not currently on the radar.
I believe you are a firecracker, so I am begging you – please be in this for the right reasons. Please fight for all our students and put political agendas aside. I don’t know your motivation, but I do know mine. I know I am in education for the right reasons – to advocate for the learning of all students.
That’s why I want to be wrong about you. I want you to succeed in this role and do good for all our students in the United States of America.
I challenge you to research, grow, and learn about public education in all its glory – good and bad. Our students deserve the world – whether they can afford or access private education or not. You are now in a great position to advocate for the learning of ALL students, and I pray you will do just that.
Mrs. Bailey Koch, M.A.Ed. – Special Education
Fourth-Year Doctoral Candidate – Special Education Ed.D.