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Critics to DeVos During WA Visit: Policies Only Serve Wealthiest

Multiple organizations, including AFT Washington, are protesting U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos's visit to Bellevue today. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Multiple organizations, including AFT Washington, are protesting U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos's visit to Bellevue today. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
October 13, 2017

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Protestors plan to greet Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Bellevue today, where she is scheduled to speak at an annual fundraiser for the Washington Policy Center, a free-market think tank.

The center says it invited DeVos to speak because she's one of the nation's top policy leaders and because of her support for charter schools and the so-called "school choice" movement.

But Carl Livingston, a political science professor at Seattle Central College who will be speaking to protestors, says that policy tips the scales toward the country's wealthiest families.

"It disserves most of the students by setting up charter schools and the privatization of education generally, which will do a good job of serving those with more money and income and means, but not do a good job of serving the average student," he says.

Multiple groups are coming together to protest the DeVos visit starting at 5 P.M., including the American Federation of Teachers of Washington.

AFT points out that DeVos has opposed efforts to overhaul student-loan servicing, scaled back investigations in her department's Civil Rights Office, and supports cuts to federal student loans in the Trump administration's budget. Her critics say all those moves hurt higher education.

Livingston also has concerns about DeVos's pick for the National Assessment Governing Board, a nonpartisan group that administers a national assessment of the country's education system. He says this is yet another instance of the secretary bringing in business people to oversee policies in education.

"Some of them are steeped in experience in business, but not really in education," he adds. "They're really principled business people that are promoting a conservative agenda."

Livingston adds that the protests won't only be about Devos's visit. He says people also are coming together to express concern that equal opportunity for students of all backgrounds is under attack.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA