Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dear President-Elect Trump - I Would Like to Apply for the Secretary of Education Position

Dear President-Elect Trump,

I have sent you two direct tweets asking for you to please consider me for the position of Secretary of Education, to which I have only received a 'form DM' response, complete with a link to buy a t-shirt to make America Great.

I already think America is Great. Which is why I am concerned about your current nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. As a person who has devoted myself to education for over 26 years, I am concerned that this choice will make the public education in the United States fall even further behind and become even more inequitable. For this reason, I am throwing my name in the hat. I feel I am a much better choice to help get our U.S. education to a better place, and I would like to outline my qualifications as compared to Ms. DeVos.

First, let me say, I am very serious. While I realize you have made an initial nomination, the approval is a ways off and I think if you had some concrete facts you might find there is a better option out there. I would like the opportunity. While I have never been politically inclined, I am passionate about teachers, students, and our great system of education, and I feel it is my civic duty to apply for this position in order to prevent a potential de-construction of some hard work that has been going on for a long time in our great education system.  Are there problems? Absolutely. Equity being one of the biggest concerns. And a concern that will only get worse under the direction of Ms. DeVos, a very public supporter of for-profit education, which directly undermines the idea of education-for-all that America stands for. The poor and under-served will only fall further behind.

Below is a quick side-by-side comparison of my qualifications for Secretary of Education compared to Ms. DeVos.

Dr. Karen M. Greenhaus Qualifications
Ms. Betsy DeVos Qualifications
Attended public schools from K-12 in Fairfax, VA
Attended private, Christian-based schools in Michigan (from what I could find in my research)
  • Attended public colleges and received three education degrees:
  • 1988 B.S. Mathematics Education, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
  • 1993 M.A. Curriculum & Instruction, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
  • 2014 Ed.D. Curriculum and Education Technology, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

  • Attended private college and received a non-education related degree:
  • 1979 B.A. Political Science and Business Administration from Calvin College, a private, Christian Reform College in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Experience in the public and higher education field:
  • 15 years - Middle School and High School math teacher and math department chair in Chesterfield, Hanover, Chesapeake Counties, public school districts in VA
  • 2 years – Secondary Math Supervisor/Specialist, overseeing 250 math teachers, curriculum, and professional development in Virginia Beach, VA
  • 6 years – worked in math publishing and technology as Director of Edtech and Professional Development for two separate publishing companies (Key Curriculum/McGraw Hill Education). Supporting public school teachers in math, technology education, curriculum, standards
  • Over 17 years as an education advocate for quality education, hands-on learning, mathematics education, education policy, professional development. Speak at local, state and national education conferences, train around the world on math and technology integration, work with the Department of Defense Education Activities to support military students and teachers on effective implementation of College and Career Ready Standards, advocate for technology education, computer science, financial literacy, equity and access in public education.
  •  Have worked in multiple public school environments around the country and world (rural, suburban, urban, military)
  • Adjunct professer, Drexel University, for online math masters program courses, since May 2016

Experience in public education field:
  • None - has not worked in or had any experience with public education

Support of Public Education:
  • Went to public schools
  • Taught in public schools
  • Work and train teachers and administrators around the country and world (military schools)
  • Own children attended public schools in VA and TX and attended public colleges in Texas.
  • Advocates and researches on education policy to support Common Core Standards (adopted by 44 states, with states controlling and modifying), ESSA, and other education initiatives
  • Supports public school teachers and schools and advocates for teachers, students and parents and improving public schools

Support of Public Education:
  • None, if any, could be found
  • Children attended private schools
  • Supports for-profit Charter School initiatives and vouchers (shown to disenfranchise poorer and minority students), which undermines public education and funnels money away from public education
  • Does not support Common Core Standards, which are STATE created standards adopted by 44 states and Department of Defense Education Activities (military schools) (many modified by the states to address state needs (by state education leaders) and showing great success).
  • Does not support public school teachers and not supported by the NEA

As you can see in my quick summary, I am far more experienced, as both a product of and a participant in, public education. I have spent my career trying to better education for students and teachers and would like the opportunity to help shape the future of public education in a way that is in fact, uniting and beneficial for all students and teachers and the country. There are definite issues and policies that need to be addressed and fixed, and I feel I could do a much better, more equitable job, than your current nominee.  

I would love the opportunity to discuss this with you.


Dr. Karen Greenhaus


Christina Slentz said...

A friend posted this blog spot to Facebook. I cannot agree with your argument more. I love the few postings I have been able to read this morning. I really hope that you will continue to speak out on this issue. I have had kids in both public and private schools. While I'm not an educator, both my mother and my mother-in-law were lifelong teachers. As a social scientist focused on political economy, my own professional opinion is that there is no more significant issue than education. Good luck to you! Don't give up!

Karen Greenhaus said...


Thanks for the support! It's a long shot, but as an educator I am tired of non-educators being put in charge of things they do not fully comprehend. I agree - education is probably one of the most significant issues and problems facing our country and we need someone who actually understands public education and all its intricacies and that throwing money and privatizing things is not going to help the most disenfranchised communities. I am sure this will not get noticed by the President-Elect, but I would love if it did and if I could really try to help change things for the better!

Sharonda Frazier said...

Yes! I posted this on Facebook also. As an educator I wholeheartedly agree that educators know better than politicians and lobbyists. Continue your effort to get attention. You are definitely more qualified in education and experience.

Karen Greenhaus said...

Thanks Sharonda! I've actually toyed with the idea for years - so much I want to change about education. Not sure I am 'qualified' enough, but I know I am definitely more qualified than Ms. DeVos!! Who knows - might get someones attention!!

Thanks for the support though!!


Unknown said...

We do NOT need a common core advocate. Please find something else to do in life. SMH....

Nixie Knox said...

We do NOT need a common core advocate. Please find something else to do in life. SMH....

Karen Greenhaus said...


Guess you felt strongly enough to have to say it twice! Glad you owned up to your comment instead of remaining anonymous. Too much hiding behind mean words.

Well as this is America everyone is entitled to their opinion and we can afeee to disagree. But let's try to not be ugly about things....there is decidedly too much of that in the workd right now. My life's work is based on education, research, experience, and years of trying different things so I am very confident in my beliefs because they are grounded in facts and results and hard work. Thanks for your opinion. Have a good day

Anonymous said...

Nice resume but your qualifications chart is missing the single most important one, donating to the trump campaign. You scored 0, and DeVos scored millions.

Karen Greenhaus said...


Lol - you are definitely right - I do not have millions and if I did, I would not have donated to the trump campaign. But - you bring up one of the reasons I even wrote this piece - the nominees so far for the presidential cabinet are in fact millionares, many without the experience needed for the positions they are nominated for, and when I saw the Secretary of Education pick I just couldn't sit quietly. I have thought about this for years as a sort of "I could do better, or at least try, because I at least am an educator who believes in education for ALL students, not the elite few". So yes - it's a long shot, but for me it's my way of trying to maybe make a difference or maybe at least bring some awareness to a scary situation. But to do so from a qualifications standpoint. The President-Elect in his campaign said he stood for all those disenfranchised Americans - well, I am not seeing it in this particular nomination in particular - and I am one of those Americans, not a wealthy, privileged individual, but someone who has worked and studied hard to be where I am. I would hope that this would be a better representation of what America needs to unite than what is currently on the table.

mtripton said...

Way to speak out, Karen. Reasoned, researched and respectful. Please, keep it going.

Karen Greenhaus said...


Thanks! I am actually really trying to pursue this seriously - getting my references together, my credentials. No real expectation to get the job, but my main goal to get it out in the public that we should have people in charge who actually have experience in what they are representing.

Money and who you know should not be the qualifications for something as important as education when there are so many students, teachers and schools suffering from a misunderstanding of what is needed and misappropriation of funds and services. Can't say I have all the answers, but I definitely know my insider perspective as student, teacher, administrator and educational publisher/vendor provides me a broad sense of what is right and wrong and where there might be some starting points for collaboration and change.

I just hope someone actually pays attention!

Fran Pettigrew (grandma) said...

It is clear that your qualifications make you an excellent candidate for Secretary of Education, while Ms. DeVos has no qualifications. Mr. Trump would be well advised to interview you for this position and would be lucky to have you on his team! Keep up the good work and good luck!

Karen Greenhaus said...

Gracias Senora Pettigrew!!! Let's hope Trump or someone in his camp actually pays some attention. It would be awesome to at least have a chance to state my case. I may not know as much as would be needed for this position, but I can learn and learn quick, and I know I definitely know more than Ms. DeVos!!

Paige Bell-von Eberstein said...

Dr. Greenhaus, I followed a link here and further shared this to my facebook page. I applaud you and fully support you! When I began researching Mrs. DeVos, I was absolutely horrified--her only qualification is buying off politicians!

We the people need to unite against president elect-Trump's nominations. Call our senate and demand they do not approve the gross corruption.

I hope you are able to get their attention to be seriously considered and become a true voice of positive change in education.

Thank you for your real dedication and action!

Karen Greenhaus said...


I am with you....feel it's my civic duty here to rise up and fight for our country and our education especially. Scares the heck out of me that my application might get noticed, but I hope it does so I can do my part to stand up for what's right. Experience should be a minimal requirement....especially with something as important as education. Education and/or lack of education is one of the reasons we have such a divided country I think, and DeVos is not going to make that better. I certainly am not advocating that things should stay the same...I believe there are so many things that need to change with education policy, but I am coming from an educator perspective with a goal that ALL students deserve an quality education, not only those with parents who have money to afford private or for-profit charters. Vouchers create a lottery system, so no matter what, many students lose out.

Thanks for the support....hopefully this goes somewhere! Getting excited and nervous! But love all the "strangers" who have reached out and sent an encouraging word. I am not the only one concerned, that's for sure!

George Stockwell said...

As a retired educator of 32 years I, too, was horrified at Trump's selection. I still get in the public schools in my grandsons' classes as a volunteer and I can see first hand that they need more than ever someone who understands the job. I dread to think of the damage that's going to be done over the next four years.

Karen Greenhaus said...

George, First, let me say I admire that you are in there volunteering at your grandson's school - what a wonderful experience for you grandson's to have you there supporting them. I am sure it is very special to all of you.

I also dread the idea of 4 years of someone who doesn't understand the intricacies and diversity of the public education system. There is so much disparity in resources, teacher quality, infrastructure, and it's really a matter of getting in the trenches and finding solutions that work for each state, school district, and school. And those solutions will NOT be the same for everyone - it's not possible to have one policy or plan that will address all the issues.

Anyway - I really am going forward with at least bringing some attention to this outright fear for our education system that the appointment of DeVos is causing among dedicated educators. It's an insult to our profession to have someone in charge who has no respect for the public education system or experience with it.

Tashinhurst said...

Dr. Greehaus, I sent a letter of non support to both of my senators. Wish I had known you were in the running. By the way, how many millions did you donate to the Trump campaign? That is a qualification that Ms. DeVos might have over you.

Karen Greenhaus said...


In theory, I am not in the running since he made the niomination already....but my hope is that I get his attention and maybe some spotlight on the sheer lunacy of DeVos as a nominee. You are right....I did not donate millions. Do not have millions, which I guess is the main qualification for cabinet members...lol. But...I am a simple middle-class worker, one of the Americans President Elect says he is representing, so I am hoping maybe that might get some notice. And I actually believe in public education, something I think SHOULD be a requirement for the job?!

Maybe you can send another letter of non-support but add my name as an option!! Just trying to get some notice....too many people are just standing by and letting these no -qualified billionaires/millionaires be nominated. How is this representative of the underserved Americans he said he was going to stand up for?

Paulina Cameron said...

I guess it has been a great decision to put your kind of resume in your blog. This way you get to see what other people think of you as a teacher. You get these tons of comments and I guess most of them do you justice. I think that if you are applying for the position of the Secretary of Education, you definitely know what you are doing when you teach and you will absolutely allow your students to purchase essays for college online which will help them benefit from using the Net for the purposes of studying.