2017’s Top 10 Quotes on Education Issues
Here are 10 quotes from 2017 that Education Week editors and readers found to be memorable or meaningful. They reflect a mix of perspectives on a range of K-12 education topics. Some of the quotes below made news. Some just made us think.
Americans want great schools for their children … But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists ... an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.
—President Donald Trump, in his inauguration speech, Jan. 20
In his first speech to the nation as president, Donald Trump described a public school system that spends big while getting poor results for students. The comments seemed like they might be the basis for a huge new federal school choice proposal, something Trump promised on the campaign trail, but never laid out.
I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.
—U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, at her Senate confirmation hearing, Jan. 17
Betsy DeVos’ response to a question about whether guns belong in schools—later lampooned on Saturday Night Live—was a memorable part of a sometimes-rocky confirmation hearing. In the end, DeVos was confirmed with a historic tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Educators and policymakers continue to debate the merits of arming school staff.
HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice.
—U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, at a meeting with leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Feb. 27
Betsy DeVos was pilloried for this comment, which implied a lack of understanding that HBCUs were founded in response to segregation. DeVos later clarified her statement. A longtime school choice advocate, DeVos has had trouble getting her choice agenda off the ground.
I can tell the attitude is more of a 'receive mode.' They're waiting to be told what they have to do, and that's not going to bring success to an individual child. You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.
—U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, describing teachers she met at Jefferson Middle School Academy in Washington, Feb. 16
When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing 'merely more than de minimis' progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all.
—Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in an opinion in the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, March 22
In a major decision expanding the scope of students' special education rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that schools must do more than provide a "merely more than de minimis" education program to a student with a disability, a previous standard set by a circuit court.
You will be deported over my dead body.
—Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade schools superintendent, April 11
Alberto Carvalho was speaking to student Daniela Pelaez, a participant in the Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—or DACA—that has since been rescinded. Carvalho, a former undocumented resident, came to the United States from Portugal as a teenager and overstayed his visa.
We don't see teaching as a career. We see it as a calling. And this is exploited by the powers that be.
—Justin Ashley, award-winning teacher, June 2017
After suffering from burnout, Justin Ashley learned the keys to happiness and to becoming a better, more emotionally balanced teacher the hard way: through a trip to rehab. A survey released this year found teachers were feeling especially stressed, disrespected, and less enthusiastic about their jobs.
This is my island. My students need me.
—Isabel Rodriguez Santos, veteran teacher, Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Oct. 9
Hurricanes devastated communities in Texas and Florida in 2017, but no place was hit harder than Puerto Rico. Education Week traveled to the U.S. territory to see how educators, students, and their families were coping. They met Isabel Rodriguez Santos, a former Teacher of the Year who refused to take a teaching job anywhere else.
A good education should, inherently, cause us discomfort.
—Christina Torres, English teacher, in response to a Miss. district’s decision to remove To Kill a Mockingbird from a junior high reading list, Oct. 15
The Biloxi school district became the focus of a national outcry when it pulled the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, and later reversed its decision. To Kill a Mockingbird wasn’t the only classic book to garner renewed attention this year, the works of Dr. Seuss drew criticism for culturally insensitive imagery.
I'm looking at the crisis that is affecting our young black men. It is a state of war. It is a state of emergency. If you're not attacking it like that, then you're essentially putting Band-Aids on gunshot wounds.
—Shaka Greene, Math teacher, Ron Brown Academy, Nov. 1
A three-part audio series from Education Week and NPR documented the first year at Washington D.C.'s first all-male public high school—one that’s grounded in love and holds students to high expectations. Shaka Greene was one of the black male educators at Ron Brown who felt strongly about the school’s groundbreaking approach.
BONUS: Here’s a little inspiration to take you into 2018: a quote from a well-known educator who had a comeback in 2017:
Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.
—Ms. Frizzle, star of Netflix’s reboot of the beloved '90s Saturday morning cartoon "The Magic School Bus"