Thursday, February 2, 2017

My Letter to Senator Toomey

Senator Toomey:

I am writing to you not only as a concerned constituent, but also as an educator and a parent. I currently serve as a high school principal in our state and have two daughters who attend our public school system. Each day, I strive to serve each and every student who comes through our doors to ensure that they receive an education they have been promised and an education they deserve. Each day, I stand before a staff of 100 educators who work tirelessly to meet the needs of each of our learners. Each day, I work with students, many of whom our building is the best opportunity of hope for a better future, to build an understanding of the importance of advocacy and education.

Since the announcement of Betsy DeVos to serve as our Secretary of Education, I have been overwhelmed by the fear, apprehension, and destruction of morale resulting in our learning community. I feel it important to state that this fear is not a fear of change. It is the demoralization of the very profession that we all have been called to serve. Each year I interview individuals who are seeking to answer a call to teach. The interview is rigorous because I know that my decision could influence the lives of many students each year for years to come. When I reflect on Mrs. DeVos' qualifications and her responses in committee, it is appalling to think that someone who would not even qualify to teach in our schools is being considered to lead them. You have had your chance to interview Mrs. DeVos; now it is time to think of how many students she could impact for years to come.

Given her responses, I am saddened to think that the United States Senate is on the verge of "hiring" an individual who does not understand the basic philosophical debate in measuring student achievement, fails to comprehend the importance of protecting some of our most vulnerable students through IDEA, and consistently misstates information because she believes no one will verify it.

My firm belief is that if Mrs. DeVos were a sitting nominee from the opposing party, she would be viewed by Senate Republicans as the least qualified education nominee in our history. Unfortunately, I believe this because she is the least qualified education nominee in our nation's history. A simple question is - how can someone who has never worked in or been served by a public school be qualified to lead our nation's public schools? If you cannot answer this question unequivocally than your answer on her vote should be even simpler.

Education is the greatest investment that we can make in the sustainability of our nation. Our future is only as bright as the sparks we continue to ignite in our students each and every day and as strong as the professionals who give each ounce of themselves for "their" children. As a constituent, an educator, and a father, I ask that you stand not for party loyalty but for our children and our schools. I ask that you come to the realization that this simple vote could have a long-standing and disastrous impact on our very foundation as a nation. I ask that you vote in opposition of Mrs. Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Our schools, our teachers, and our students deserve better.

Jared C. Wastler