By Steve and Susan Chamberlin

As philanthropists who work to improve public education in our local community, we’ve been watching carefully the controversies around President Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Her appointment is troubling to us, and our objection is centered on one key principle: our unwavering commitment to public education.

We believe that every student in every neighborhood deserves an excellent public school, where they get what they need to thrive and achieve their dreams.

To that effect, our work in West Contra Costa has involved support for both traditional neighborhood schools and high performing, public charter schools. We believe both school models play important roles in strengthening the public education system, through expanding options for families and creating opportunities to learn, share, and get better together.

All charter schools in our community are not-for-profit, tuition-free, and open to all. We do not believe that for-profit management of charter schools or vouchers are effective solutions to improving education for our students. Public education – real public education – is the only way to help all students have an equitable opportunity for success.

We must also ensure that in defending public schools, we do not shy away from improving public schools. We must close the education equity gap for our most vulnerable students and support the efforts of our outstanding public school educators. This will require real commitment and community partnership with families, educators, civic leaders, and philanthropists. Together, we can create positive change and help every West Contra Costa student get the quality public school they deserve. Our students are counting on all of us to help strengthen public education and our society, which is more important than ever today.