Teachers Push Back Against Betsy DeVos' Claim That Schools Are in the 'Industrial Era'
During a speech at SXSW EDU, the annual education conference in Austin, Texas, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told the audience that educators need more room to innovate in the classroom.
But on social media, teachers said their classrooms are full of innovation—and they have the photos to prove it.
"We have to free them up to be more innovative in their own classrooms," DeVos had said, adding that she has met with teachers of the year who had left the classroom. Those renowned educators, DeVos said, were told to go back and "get within their box at their school."
Teachers should be given "more latitude and autonomy to meet the needs of their students in their classrooms," DeVos said. She also took to social media to share her concerns.
"Does this look familiar?" she tweeted, showing side-by-side stock photos from different eras of children sitting in desks, facing the teacher. "Students lined up in rows. A teacher in front of a blackboard. Sit down; don't talk; eyes up front. Wait for the bell. Walk to the next class. Everything about our lives has moved beyond the industrial era. But American education largely hasn't."
Her comments struck a nerve with teachers, who widely dislike the controversial education secretary. According to an Education Week Research Center survey, 72 percent of the 1,122 educators surveyed said they didn't like DeVos. In comparison, 67 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of Trump.
No. It doesn't look familiar. THIS is what public school looks like. pic.twitter.com/OYYrXvIRq2-- LPG (@puckettgarcia) March 7, 2018
And here's one more for good measure... This is when we built the Mission de Valero/the Alamo out of desks and reenacted the final siege. Rows and lectures are NOT the norm in public school. pic.twitter.com/rgGImsqxHh-- LPG (@puckettgarcia) March 7, 2018
Pictures from my 4th grade classroom: pic.twitter.com/3VmftwWYfk-- Jennifer Butler (@bupeBSD) March 7, 2018
Not familiar at all. It looks like student led book club discussions. pic.twitter.com/rK6q27XVg2-- Natsteaching (@nhrynko) March 7, 2018
Actually, your stock photos looks unfamiliar. In my classroom, and many others (that you probably don't know about) students are the agents of their own learning and often are the ones up in front of the class teaching and learning with each other. pic.twitter.com/M02YzBBMmJ-- Alex Brown (@AlexBrown15) March 7, 2018
Don't you know that stock photos aren't real? How many classrooms have you visited in the past year? Classrooms don't look like that anymore. Students don't work like that anymore. I would think that as Sec of Edu you would be celebrating us, not putting us down. #Bye pic.twitter.com/GPDr1aS7vp-- Teresa Hurtado (@MissHurtad0KISD) March 6, 2018
Even one teacher, who used to work with DeVos at the Education Department as a classroom teacher ambassador fellow, weighed in:
So did the 2016 National Teacher of the Year:
I'm confused 🤷🏽♀️ it doesn't feel like we're on the same team... and by the way these are my students rehabbing houses in their community. This is public education! pic.twitter.com/DmxLIjcTGL-- Jahana Hayes (@JahanaHayes) March 8, 2018
DeVos has visited a handful of schools during her time as education secretary—traditional public, charter, or private. Education Week has tracked each visit.
Image via Alex Brandon/AP