Tariku Bogale: Your kids need you now

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

Growing up as a boy in Ethiopia my mother taught me to only say nice things about people. My mother never met Betsy DeVos.

Picked by President Trump to run the Department of Education, DeVos has made it clear she has little use for public schools. She also has a thing about guns.

Ridiculed at her confirmation hearing for suggesting schools might use guns to protect students from grizzly bears, DeVos recently lowered the bar even further by floating a plan to use tax dollars to buy guns for teachers. Forgive me mom, but how stupid do you have to be to think arming teachers would do anything other than putting our kids at risk?

The privatizing of American schools have been an unmitigated disaster. Instead of reading and writing, profit and loss have become the buzz words of a 21st century school. My greatest fear is that this administration has lost its way in teaching our children.

What DeVos and company haven’t lost is their love of money. Rolling back an Obama-era regulation, the for-profit colleges are no longer responsible for the amount of debt their students take on. Because of DeVos, the one stick the administration had – the threat of losing federal funding – is gone.

Translation; if the for-profit colleges do a bad job of training your child for their dream job, and they racked up six-figure debts along the way, that was just too bad.

Consider what happened in Wisconsin. The badger state was one of the few that had an actual agency charged with protecting prospective students from college scams. It took a couple of years, but their Republican governor, Scott Walker, squeezed the life out of the agency by getting rid of people and decimating their budgets.

Wisconsin politicians have lined up at the money trough and shared almost $8-million dollars in campaign donations from the supporters of voucher programs that have funneled public funding for schools into private ones instead. Walker who got rid of the agency protecting students also scooped up more than $2 million dollars in campaign donations.

These people are playing games with the lives of our children. It scares me to death and should scare you too.

My life has been blessed. I came to America as a teenager to study. The chance to go to college in America was my golden ticket. Not only would I have a better life with an education, but an education inspired millions of us to fight for a life we couldn’t have back home.

You helped us believe in an American dream where all citizens could share and opened your doors to us. We used our brains and our hearts to develop products and philosophies that didn’t just change America but made our adopted country smarter, safer, and an even better place to live.

But right now, I am as scared for your kids as I am mine. I don’t see much hope in our public schools. I see professionals hanging on, afraid for their own jobs, and our kids becoming an afterthought.

We need hope. What we don’t need are public servants floating imbecilic ideas that would have my daughter’s algebra teacher packing heat. We need hope that things can be better tomorrow. Our kids deserve the chance to dream just like we did.

Dad’s, we can do more. Don’t always expect mom to handle the parent-teacher conference. They may yell but take back the smart phone. Show this generation that our “village” is as important as anything on their phones. Read them a story. Help with home-work. They’ll roll their eyes but, trust me on this, they’ll notice you were there.

Education in America is under attack by the state house and the White House. These are the people who think buying guns is a better investment than text books. The big-gest threat to your kids and mine isn’t a street gang. It’s our government.

Schools are opening soon and we all need to take one step forward together to make a difference. If we can’t do that, it is like taking two steps backwards.

And then we all lose. But its our kids who will lose the most.

— Bogale is the father of two, author and entrepreneur with businesses in Africa, Europe, and the United States.

SHARE