Photo courtesy of betsydevos.com

Photo courtesy of betsydevos.com

Huge Protests Expected for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Bellevue

The Trump cabinet member will have quite a welcoming committee.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is coming to Bellevue Friday.

And her anticipated presence has sparked hundreds to plan their protest on Facebook. Approximately 2,400 have confirmed their attendance with the Equity in Education Coalition.

DeVos will attend the Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner at Bellevue’s Hyatt Regency and will speak on education reform. Members with the Washington Policy Center expect 1,500 to attend the dinner and call it the “largest and most prestigious annual policy event in the state.”

Neil Cavuto with Fox News is also a keynote speaker.

In a blog post by Liv Finne, the director of the Center for Education at Washington Policy Center, she explained why they chose DeVos to speak.

“First, as U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos is one of the top policy leaders in the country,” Finne wrote. “She administers $68 billion in federal grants to schools, including $22 billion in Pell Grants that benefit low-income students. Thousands of families in Washington state depend on these programs.”

Finne’s second and third reasons included DeVos’ leadership of the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and that she is recognized as the nation’s leading proponent of school choice.

“… If a child faces learning difficulties, bullying, or racial barriers at a traditional public school, that family should have the right to choose a different school,” she continued. “Also, school choice is much more common today than in the past. Not only do 5 million children attend private schools, but 3.1 million students in 43 states attend public charter schools.”

Finne went on to say 400,000 children in 31 states and Washington D.C. receive vouchers, tax credit scholarships or education savings accounts to attend private schools.

The fourth reason, Finne added, is that DeVos has seen how the Washington D.C. voucher program has closed the achievement gap between “minority and white students, resulting in unacceptably high drop-out rates for students of color.”

Finne said those who are most upset about DeVos’ visit to Bellevue “are those who gain most under the current system,” calling out the Washington Education Association and their need to “maintain their power” and keep “mandatory dues money flowing to their back accounts.”

However, Equity in Education Coalition of Washington, an organization who has 700-plus confirmed to attend their Friday protest against DeVos, states otherwise.

In a web post, members of the coalition say DeVos supports “privatizing education, eliminating the regulatory oversight of private schools funded by public dollars, and eroding America’s public education.”

“So far in her time as Secretary, DeVos has made it a priority to disempower the Office of Civil Rights, which handles discrimination charges and protects the most marginalized of students,” the post reads. “She has repealed protections for students repaying loans to fund their higher education. And, at every chance, DeVos has advocated for privatizing public education, a controversial and, at many times, unsuccessful mission of hers, that will serve to the detriment of students everywhere.”

The coalitions writes DeVos is the “last person” who should be influencing Washington’s education policy as the state is “on the brink of crafting a plan that will fully fund K-12 education for each and every child.”

The Equity in Education Coalition of Washington is just one organization that plans to counter-rally. The WEA-Sammamish Uniserv Council, which represents Bellevue, Mercer Island, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Snoqualmie, Tahoma and Riverview, will counter-rally as well.

Michele Miller, the president of the WEA-Sammamish Uniserv Council, said they hope to bring attention to DeVos’ agenda to privatize public education.

She said she thinks it’s sad that DeVos is attending a political fundraiser – the annual dinner is $350 a seat – with a message that schools are failing under the current public education system. And, yet, she is coming to a district, Bellevue School District, which is one of the best performing in the state and country. Miller pointed out that, to her knowledge, neither DeVos or her team has inquired about visiting any of the schools either.

More in News & Comment

A man addresses the King County Council during a public hearing March 20 at New Life Church in Renton. He presented bags filled with what he said was hazardous materials dropped on his property by bald eagles. Another speaker made similar claims. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Locals show support for King County waste to energy plant

Public hearing on landfill’s future was held March 20 in Renton.

Vigil event at Redmond mosque brings in 1,000-plus crowd

The event also included a teach-in to school attendees on Islamophobia and its root causes.

Bill to protect compost operations from lawsuits fails again

This is the third time Cedar Grove sought changes to reduce threat of legal action over bad odors.

Baseball gets more fun: Everett venue is now Funko Field

Everett Memorial Stadium, home of the minor-league AquaSox, will get new branding and a 15-foot statue.

‘What a community college is all about’: Meet a top scholar

Lazarus Hart is among those named to the All-Washington Academic Team from community colleges.

What tax raising idea will win out in March budget madness?

Democrats, who control the state House and Senate, are set to release spending plans and revenue packages.

Sole survivor: Edmonds man goes 21 days on “Naked and Afraid”

Max Djenohan did a 14-day challenge in reality TV jungle last year. He went back for another round.

The Cedar Hills Regional Landfill is the only active landfill in King County. It will operate until at least 2028. It has been in operation since the 1960s. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Waste study puts numbers behind King County trash alternatives

County has one remaining landfill located near Maple Valley, and it’s nearing capacity

United Methodist vote has churches’ future in question

Congregations debate separation following gay-clergy, same-sex marriage ban.

Most Read