Protesters Block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos From Entering D.C. Middle School

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had planned to visit Jefferson Academy in Washington, D.C., early Friday. But, much like her confirmation three days prior, her arrival was met with controversy.

“You do not represent anything that they stand for," crowds of protesters shouted as she approached the middle school. Many held signs noting her position on private education and support for charter schools.  

DeVos was swiftly deterred and led away from the scene. The visit had been organized by the Washington Teachers' Union. However, the organization had strongly opposed her nomination.

“Giving money to senators and buying your way into the position, you should be so proud of yourself,” one man taunted, jogging past DeVos and her companion. 

DeVos was escorted into a town car as the crowd continued to shame her. 

But by 11:30 am, DeVos had returned to the school and even the D.C. mayor had weighed in on the incident.

"This bears repeating: Protest - peaceful protest - is fine but we do not condone violence towards anyone," Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted. 

"DC has the fastest growing urban school district in America," Bowser added. "We welcome @BetsyDeVos & anyone who wants to learn more about our schools."

According to WAMU, "Jefferson enrolls close to 300 students, the overwhelming majority of them black and low-income. While more than half of the school’s students did not meet or only partially met expectations in reading and math on the PARCC test last year, city officials have designated the school as 'rising,' which they say means it is improving."

Elizabeth Davis, head of the Washington Teachers’ Union, who confirmed the visit Thursday night, received reports that DeVos would be confronted shortly after the announcement was made

“Everyone will have a different way of demonstrating discontent with her policies," Davis said in response. "I understand why some parents are concerned. My message is that we have got to keep the pressure on the Department of Ed., on Betsy DeVos, to ensure that structures are in place that would safeguard our public schools and stay vigilant. We simply cannot be on the sidelines and let things happen to our public schools without voicing our concerns and resisting things that would be harmful to our kids.”


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