by Meghan Feely
In just a few short decades, the leaders of tomorrow, our youth, will become symbols of hope, innovation, and change leading the United States and the world toward a more promising and prosperous future. Every child’s ambitious aspirations begin at an early age with a solid educational foundation, upon which they build their unique framework on their path to success. Currently, our education system, particularly public K-12 schools are in jeopardy of losing federal funding given the recent confirmation of the 11th Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, a proponent of school choice and voucher programs.
The federal government ought to provide, regardless of party affiliation, someone who understands the needs of the children and families who access public-education. Education is not, and should not be, a for-profit industry. Rather, it is about empowering our children to work a little harder and dream a little bigger regardless of their demographics. Public education in America is local; it is operated by school boards and city officials who appreciate the unique needs of their communities. At the very least, we must demand accountability, affordability, and equal access to a quality education from Secretary Devos, and school choice limits those qualities unique to our federally funded public education system.
What’s at stake is bigger than education itself. Schools are not just mechanisms for education. They are safe-havens for the 20% of children who live in poverty, they provide protection outside the home, they foster love, inclusiveness, and equality for all students. Beyond the young minds it educates, our school systems employed three million teachers in the Fall of 2016. Those three million dedicated minds poured their heart, souls, and wallets into the system, despite being severely underpaid and overworked. We are failing our children, our teachers, and our country. Our education system can always be improved upon. However, it is our duty to ensure that we are forward-looking and not retroactive with our changes. We cannot take this threat lightly, because the future of roughly 51.4 million students enrolled in public education hangs in the balance.
If the confirmation of Secretary Devos does not ignite a burning passion inside you to rise in support of public education, then dig a little deeper and find it within yourself to join the movement. The fight has only just begun, and we need fierce warriors to stand by our children on the front lines. We need to improve upon the excellent foundation that we have and strive to improve its quality to ensure a better future for our nation and its children, not tear it down. In doing so we will empower researchers who will discover the cure for cancer, we will inspire future politicians, we will engineer a new space shuttle, and we will excite passionate environmentalists who find ingenious ways to ensure the longevity of our planet. Let’s stick together, work together, and fight together because together anything is possible.