Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos Tours Public School with Teachers Union President

devos-weingarten-school-tour Cathie Rowand AP
Cathie Rowand/AP

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos toured a rural Ohio public school district Thursday with American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten.

DeVos and Weingarten visited the early childhood center, elementary, and high school campuses of Van Wert City Schools. Afterward, they met in a roundtable discussion with parents, students, and local and state leaders.

“I want to thank Van Wert City Schools for hosting today’s visit and for their dedication to their students of all ages and abilities,” DeVos said in a statement. “Ms. Weingarten and I had a very productive conversation and identified several areas of collaboration.”

“I look forward to continuing the conversation around how we can best give all students an equal opportunity to a great education that serves their needs,”
the secretary said.

According to limaohio.com, protestors met DeVos holding signs that said, “School public schools,” “School choice is the real threat to rural schools, not grizzly bears,” and “School choice = less $$ public schools.”

WHIO also reported about a half dozen parked pickup trucks with American flags in support of President Donald Trump were placed in the high school parking lot for the visit.

The teachers unions have made clear their view that the Trump education department is a threat to public schools due to its keen investment in school choice.

“Look, she has made no secret up until this job, that she thought public schools were a dead end and she has worked as a lobbyist for two decades to dismantle them and defund them,” Weingarten told Fox Business, adding she asked to tour Van Wert schools with DeVos because the district “needs resources to do the things that they have been doing to create opportunities for students, and it is very much a poster child about how money matters and how public education matters — and it crosses party lines too.”

“Republicans feel as firmly about public education in this district as the Democrats do,” Weingarten said.

Van Wert City Schools superintendent Ken Amstutz described his district as “very Republican.”

“It’s definitely an area, she [DeVos] would feel comfortable coming to,” he said. “We are doing things well and we are doing a lot [of innovative] things too. We are also doing a lot of things for our special needs kids. We are pretty much in my mind ahead of the game.”

In an op-ed at U.S. News & World Report, Weingarten described the Trump administration’s proposed education budget cuts to after-school, summer, and teacher training programs as “cruel and craven”:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent two decades defunding and destabilizing public schools in Michigan, and now she wants to spread that same agenda to every town and city in America… These are programs essential to meeting the social, emotional and academic needs of children. We can’t go back and undo what DeVos did in Michigan, but we can and must stand up and stop her from pushing this anti-public school agenda across the country.

DeVos, however, states she is focused on meeting the unique education needs of every child in America.

According to the U.S. Education Department press office, the secretary has now visited six traditional public schools.


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