Via Wikipedia

Betsy DeVos Is Headed to Bellevue. Protesters Surely Are As Well.

DeVos is the first Trump cabinet member to appear publicly in Washington.

It was going to happen eventually.

A top-shelf member of President Donald Trump’s administration is coming to Washington to share her convictions, champion her boss’ accomplishments and inflame hearts of their political foes.

Betsy DeVos, the 11th secretary of the Department of Education, will be the one.

She is making the trek west next month to attend a $350-a-person fundraising dinner for the Washington Policy Center, a talent-laden purveyor of sturdy pro-business analysis. The event is Friday Oct. 13 at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.

However, not everyone will be buying a ticket to greet her.

It is likely DeVos will encounter a welcoming committee comprised of teachers, parents, students, Democratic politicians and other assorted defenders of public schools that will not be cheering her arrival but jeering her efforts to redesign the federal approach to education.

Before enlisting as a federal public servant, DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist, invested her time and vast wealth into pushing the case for school choice and promoting charter schools, vouchers, and other alternatives to traditional public schools.

In the course of her nomination, opponents including Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington questioned her qualification to be the education leader of the free world. They said she exhibited little knowledge of how the nation’s public schools operate and seemed committed to an agenda of reform aimed at undermining the system itself.

Murray took to the Senate floor before the confirmation vote to rail against DeVos, saying she is driven by an “extreme right wing ideology” and would bring an “anti-government, free-market-above-all philosophy” to the American education system.

Her appointment stirred a rousing fight in the U.S. Senate and when it came time to vote, senators split 50-50 on whether to give her the job. That meant Vice President Mike Pence had to come in to break the tie and confirm her.

Following the vote, Murray took to the floor again to encourage DeVos to modify her attitudes toward public education and moderate her zeal for school choice.

“Betsy DeVos will be our next Secretary of Education, but it is clear that people across the country and Democrats and Republicans here in the Senate believe that we should work together to strengthen public education, not privatize or defund it,” Murray said. “So I am hopeful that she enters her new role taking this to heart, and ready to adjust her views.”

There’s little sign that’s happened.

Rather, DeVos continues to argue the value of giving parents more options for how their children are educated. Her speeches routinely include pitches for improving elementary and secondary education by expanding publicly funded but privately-run charter schools—the first of which opened in Washington in 2014—and giving more families access to a voucher of public funds to pay for private schooling.

If she hits on those themes next month, she will be a hit with most, if not all, of those inside the Hyatt Regency ballroom.

It had to happen eventually.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623; jcornfield@ heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Deputy fatally shoots Auburn man

Man identified as Joshua Sarrett, 32.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Screenshot from fredhutch.org
Fred Hutch seeks volunteers of color for COVID-19 study

Research company recently released a Spanish-language version of the website for accessibility, inclusivity.

High speed rail and hub cities explored in Cascadia Corridor study

A new paper outlines a potential plan for the region.

Should state cover school bus costs if there are no riders?

With funding tied to getting students to school, districts are uncertain how much money they’ll receive.

File photo
Man shot in chest found in Federal Way parking lot

Police are investigating the shooting which occurred near the Redondo Heights Park and Ride around 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 20

A view of the Palmer Fire, located seven miles southwest of Oroville in north central Washington. Source: InciWeb
Antifa isn’t starting Washington wildfires

Online conspiracy theories are spreading as the West Coast burns.

A plane drops fire retardant on the Palmer Mountain Fire last week. The fire is listed as 84 percent contained, and fully lined. Laura Knowlton/Sound Publishing staff photo
Threat multiplier: How climate change, coronavirus and weather are scorching WA

Dry summer conspired with the pandemic and a wind storm.

Seven decades later, the search for two missing Navy pilots continues

The pilots are thought to have disappeared near Black Lake, northeast of North Bend.

Most Read