A resolution by the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) to invite newly confirmed U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for a visit has been rescinded at the urging of the city’s teachers’ union.
To clarify: Our school board is not inviting Secretary of Education Betsy #DeVos to visit SDUSD.
— San Diego Unified (@sdschools) February 13, 2017
In a Facebook post, Lindsay Burningham, president of the San Diego Education Association (SDEA), said the union objects to the school district’s resolution to invite DeVos:
The reality is that DeVos has committed her personal life, abundant wealth and political connections, in the pursuit of dismantling and destabilizing public education in Michigan. She has now set her sights on all of America’s public schools. DeVos has advocated for diverting public money to voucher programs and profit-driven charter management organizations, who operate with little or no regulatory oversight while draining desperately needed resources from local schools and communities.
According to NBC 7, board president Richard Barrera and Trustee John Lee Evans sponsored the resolution to invite DeVos. Their goal was to allow the secretary an opportunity to “learn what the school district is doing to create quality public schools in every neighborhood, so that she can collect the data needed that will allow her to base her decisions on what is best for students rather than on any political ideology.”
Barrera withdrew his support for the resolution, however, after the teachers’ union and some parents and “community partners” objected, says the news report.
“Now is the time for those of us who believe in public education to stand together and confront the threat clearly posed by the DeVos ideology,” Barrera said.
On Friday, a small group of protesters attempted to block DeVos from entering a Washington, D.C. school. The protesters clashed with police as they shouted at DeVos and she was escorted to another entrance of the school.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), rebuked the protesters.
“We don’t condone such acts,” Weingarten tweeted. “We want her to go to public schools.”
Just heard a protester blocked & almost knocked Secy @BetsyDeVos down at Jefferson.We don't condone such acts.We want her to go to pub schls
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) February 10, 2017
On Tuesday, Weingarten tweeted:
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) February 15, 2017
DeVos’s nomination was the subject of unprecedented controversy for an education secretary, with opposition coming from both the left and the right. Teachers’ unions and public school supporters claim she will privatize public schools, while Common Core opponents want to see an end to federal intrusion in education and a focus on local control before school choice. In the end, Vice President Mike Pence’s historic vote in the Senate was required to break the tie vote that enabled DeVos’s confirmation.
During a parent-teacher conference listening session at the White House, President Donald Trump praised DeVos for having “gone through a very tough trial and a very unfair trial.”
Trump, Pence, and DeVos met with parents and teachers from various school settings, including private, public, Catholic, homeschool, and charter schools.
“As I said many times in my campaign, we want every child in America to have the opportunity to climb the ladder to success,” Trump said. “I want every child also to have a safe community, and we’re going to do that very much. We’re going to be helping you a lot — a great school and some day to get a really well-paying job or better, or better: own their own company. And a lot of people are looking at that.”
“That’s why I want every single disadvantaged child in America, no matter what their background or where they live, to have a choice about where they go to school,” the president continued. “And it’s worked out so well in some communities where it’s been properly run and properly done. And it’s a terrific thing.”
DeVos said she was “really excited to be here today with parents and educators representing traditional public schools, charter public schools, homeschools, private schools, a range of choices.”
“And we’re eager to listen and learn from you your ideas for how we can ensure that all of our kids have an equal opportunity for a high-quality, great education and therefore an opportunity for the future,” she said.