Why I Stay as a Special Education Teacher in the DeVos Era of Education

With the dawn of the Betsy DeVos era of education, it seems to me like my profession, my colleagues and my students are all working in a hostile environment. Hostility can start with speech. Based on her own words, I feel Betsy DeVos cannot be relied on to uphold the special education laws that are needed to guarantee the rights of students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education.

I don’t know if she will be successful or if the outrage of parents, teachers, advocates and people with disabilities will be strong enough to stop what I feel is a backslide into prehistoric times of special education history where students were denied a basic education and sequestered away from places of education.

But I do know why I stay.

I stay because I want my students to know that someone welcomes them.

I stay to show my students that they matter enough to someone to put them first.

I stay because I want them to know that with hard work on their part and understanding on mine, they can achieve their goals.

I stay to show them I care if they are bullied or overlooked, and I will stand up for them.

I stay to show them they are more than the sum of their test scores, and I will fight to educate the whole child.

I stay to build on their strengths, not highlight their weaknesses.

I stay to give them opportunities to love learning and experience success.

I stay to show them how to work with their disabilities — not deny them — to be successful.

I stay to show them that perseverance does matter and will show results that will be revealed in time.

Despite Betsy DeVos, despite the hostile environment, despite the ambivalence and paucity shown towards my students, I stay to stand in front of what I believe is the impending decline so my students are supported.

Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

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