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The DeVos Confirmation Also Confirmed I Won't Send My Son To A Public Or Charter School

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My son is smart. Yes, I know I’m his mother and I’m biased, but he is smart. When he was 2 years old he pointed at a stop sign and said, “Mommy! Octagon!” I almost fell over. I knew that he watched videos with shapes on YouTube, but I had no idea he actually knew how to spot those shapes in real life without my prodding him. Now that he's approaching school age, I've given a lot of thought about how I'm going to proceed with his education, and I've only become increasingly concerned in the past few weeks as Betsy DeVos was nominated and then confirmed as Secretary of Education. A woman who has no real knowledge of the public school system taking total charge of it worries me as a parent, and to be honest, DeVos' confirmation is the reason I'm homeschooling my son when the time comes.

My son has an insanely accurate memory; aside from the shapes (he knows what a parallelogram is, for crying out loud), he knows all of the planets, an array of fruits and vegetables that he doesn’t even eat (we have to walk the produce section of our grocery store so he can tell me what everything is), and he can recite much of the dialogue from his favorite televisions shows and YouTube videos. He is always, always aware of the world around him. So while I'm secure in my decision to send him to preschool this fall, I'm now very seriously considering homeschooling him once he begins kindergarten.

Courtesy of Sa'iyda Shabazz

To be totally honest, I'm just simply not confident in the Trump administration’s ability to properly regulate the federal standards for education — both for my own son and for the future of our country's children. Of course I agree that the public school system is flawed and in need of change, but bringing in someone like Betsy DeVos is not the way to fix it. Her history of gutting the Detroit public school system does not bode well for what she'll do now with a bigger platform. If I've learned anything during the very short amount of time this administration has been in power so far, it's that those in charge have no problem reaching outside of their lane to do whatever they want. I mean, why wouldn’t that extend to schools?

In the United States, education has been established as a right, not a privilege. So if all children are deserving of an education, how does a voucher system or scholarship system help families who are like mine who simply cannot afford these things?

I was educated at public schools in New York City until I went off to a private college, and my son’s father was also educated in public school. We feel strongly that our son will also have a public education. I am raising my son by myself and even if my son's father and I combined forces, we still wouldn't be able to put him into a private school. DeVos, however, has always championed private education, a voucher system, and the right of "school choice" for parents and their kids.

Courtesy of Sa'iyda Shabazz

In the United States, education has been established as a right, not a privilege. So if all children are deserving of an education, how does a voucher system or scholarship system help families who are like mine who simply cannot afford these things? Vouchers only exist to exacerbate the already glaring inequities of the public school system, and children of color and low-income students (usually one in the same) are often left behind in favor of their white peers. It's easy to pad the schools with the kind of students who look more desirable to donors, and not students who deserve or need to be there. So while yes, my kid is smart, he's the child of a black single mother, which means he's much more likely to be discriminated against. As if all of this wasn’t enough to worry about, on the same day that DeVos was confirmed, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) tweeted about his bill to do away with the entire Department of Education.

Frankly, the tweet confirmed everything I was already concerned about with DeVos coming into power.

Honestly, it's terrifying to be a parent in this political climate for various reasons. For me, especially as a black woman raising a mixed-race child, I have dozens of concerns, and I've been very vocal about my opposition to the decisions of this administration, but the education debacle was the straw that broke my back. I feel it's proof that this administration wants to dumb down the next generation and have them only think what the government wants them to think, even though they've never come out and said this, I can't help but voice my fear that it's control at the highest level. I was never raised that way, so sure as hell will not raise my son that way.

I know I still have time, but I feel that they only way to truly assure that my child will stand any sort of a fighting chance as he gets older academically is to handle his education myself.

Even with a public school education, my parents were sure to supplement what I was learning in school with a more well-rounded education of what was going on in the world around me. I have every intention of doing the same with my son; I do not want to raise a child who is discouraged to think critically. In fact, I've often worried because in addition to his top-notch memory, he's also incredibly articulate but seriously headstrong and independent. I'm concerned that this ferocity will be beaten out of him in a traditional school setting. Given his strong personality, I can absolutely see him standing up in the classroom and proclaiming that the teacher is wrong because his mommy told him something different. I of course would be proud, but would also be worried that he'd be branded a troublemaker or problem child.

Courtesy of Sa'iyda Shabazz

I know I still have time, but I feel that they only way to truly assure that my child will stand any sort of a fighting chance as he gets older academically is to handle his education myself. In the coming days and years as this administration gains more power, the only way to stay above water is to be vigilant. And the best way to be vigilant is to have a solid education. If I have to do it myself, then so be it.