Betsy DeVos rankled public school teachers Tuesday when she tweeted a picture criticizing classroom structure.
The problem? According to teachers, the picture doesn't accurately reflect what a modern classroom looks like.
"Does this look familiar? Students lined up in rows. A teacher in front of a blackboard," the education secretary tweeted. "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."
Does this look familiar? 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. #SXSWEDUpic.twitter.com/kyy2r7bTud
— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVosED) March 6, 2018
The tweet in question was seemingly meant to illustrate a lack of evolution in teaching approach and classroom style. The education secretary, a longtime supporter of charter schools, added the hashtag #SXSWEDU to the tweet in reference to a conference about innovation in education.
Soon after the tweet was posted, teachers began replying to DeVos with photos of their classrooms. Some also questioned the credentials of DeVos, who has never worked in a public school, despite leading the government agency on education.
No. It doesn't look familiar. THIS is what public school looks like. pic.twitter.com/OYYrXvIRq2
— LPG (@puckettgarcia) March 7, 2018
Come visit our school and classroom! We spend 75% of our day in small-groups, independent reading, researching our interests, learning about the world, and engaged in play. We love learning in hands-on ways and would welcome you any day! pic.twitter.com/iN9plwTbJ5
— Ms. Wintuska (@MsWsClassroom) March 6, 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. #Byepic.twitter.com/GPDr1aS7vp
— Teresa Hurtado (@MissHurtad0KISD) March 6, 2018
Let’s try this. Here’s a classroom in 2018 pic.twitter.com/hFOz15y8Op
— Amanda Edwards (@pirateteacher82) March 6, 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
Others pointed out that modern pedagogical approaches include having students lead discussions on learning topics.
"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," wrote New York City Teach for America fellow Alex Brown.
DeVos and teachers have sparred repeatedly since Congress approved her controversial nomination by a razor-thin margin in February 2017. She once suggested that classroom choice should operate like food trucks, yet another comment that drew ire from the country's educators.
The education secretary's visit on Wednesday to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a shooting killed 17 people on February 14, prompted complaints from some students. DeVos said shortly after the shooting that schools should consider training and arming teachers to respond to crazed gunmen.
Throughout the controversies, DeVos has attempted to assuage fears that she is "public enemy no. 1," as some teachers unions have stated.
"I am committed to transforming our education system into the best in the world," DeVos said upon receiving her nomination, vowing to "make American schools great again."
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