School choice advocates may have heaped praise upon President-Elect Donald Trump’s Education Secretary pick Betsy DeVos, but teachers aren’t too happy with the future head of the national education system -- and they’re fighting back.
In Florida, teachers are even organizing protests against DeVos, a figure they say is wholly out of touch with the public school system.
School choice advocates praised Trump's selection shortly after the announcement last week, saying it was the right step on a new path for U.S. education. In Florida, powerful state lawmakers even joined in the chorus of positivity about DeVos' new job.
“Students, parents, and education reformers across the United States should be thrilled by the selection of Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education. Betsy is a tireless, fearless, and intelligent national leader in high quality education,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran said in a statement.
But not everyone agreed.
“Trump stated that she is ‘a brilliant and passionate education advocate’, but her brand of passion is not that of preserving and protecting public education,” wrote a group protesting DeVos in St. Petersburg this week. “She has never attended a public school nor have her children. She has never worked in or for a public school, but has worked actively against them.”
The group of teachers expressed their apprehensions over DeVos’ support of school vouchers, which many public educators vehemently oppose.
The Badass Teachers Association, a group of 80,000 teachers and education activists, has also taken issue with Trump’s appointment of DeVos.
Members, who call themselves "BATs," say the former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party has used her money and influence to push an agenda which does not benefit public education.
The teachers have also taken issue that none of DeVos’ own children actually attended public school and have criticized her for having no education degree or any experience teaching -- two things they believe are a must-have for anyone who wants to have a job in the education field.
“Students and families across the nation will pay for her lack of understanding that it is the responsibility of elected officials, and the public, to provide a quality public education for all children,” they wrote in a statement.
“Public education is not a business. Public education is not a competition. In competition and business there are winners and losers. Public education should be about nurturing our most valuable resource – our children. Our children deserve a Secretary of Education who is an advocate for public education not privatization.” said Executive Director of BATs Marla Kilfoyle.
Now that DeVos is scheduled to steer the national education ship, the BATs are fighting back.
Scores of teachers have vowed to push their federal, state and local lawmakers to promote public education values as the teachers see fit.
On Dec. 1, the BATs are planning to take to social media airwaves, taking to Twitter for an online protest using the hashtag #NotMySOE.
Others are organizing protests, like the one in St. Petersburg, which has already gathered nearly 30 RSVPs, mostly from local teachers.
Teachers, it seems, feel a lot of fear and anger as a result of DeVos’ nomination.
“She will work to demolish this system which provides a free appropriate public education for our students with disabilities and strives to provide all students with equitable access to education,” the protest group wrote.