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.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.