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Teachers Plan Protests Against Trump Education Secretary Pick Betsy DeVos

November 28, 2016 - 6:45pm
Betsy DeVos
Betsy DeVos

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.

"By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities,” National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said. The NEA is the nation's largest teachers' union.

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.


Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.



I am an educator from Ohio. My biggest opposition to Betsy Devo's consideration for the position of Education Secretary is that she has never been an educator, principal, or school administrator. In order to be eligible for a teaching license or to renew one, I had to do take several courses and workshops. New teachers have to go through a residency period. All of these are to ensure that the most qualified people are instructing the students of Ohio. Why should the highest education position in our Country go to someone who does not know what it is like to be an educator? Why should this position be filled by someone who thinks that the solution to the problems in our education system can be solved by simply breaking up the public school systems with vouchers and charter schools? Also, has her method of education reform resulted in the scores of the school systems she has sponsored being highly proficient and showing great student growth? If not what makes her such a "great candidate" for the position? Why is that on the grass roots level the teacher has to be "highly qualified" but the education secretary just has to be a millionaire? Why do the politicians keep giving us substandard leaders and then bombard us with rhetoric that they are really trying to improve things in our country? If the "common people" have to be qualified in order to be hired for jobs, the leaders should be also!

Amen R. Lee!

Just an FYI to the BATs. Public education is not "free".

Just an FYI to the BATs. Public education is not "free".

It's free to the beneficiaries of it.

I have numerous friends and family members that are teachers. The majority of them hate the MEA and have wanted it changed for years. They truly love to teach and it shows through the different awards they have received for doing so. The other side is that a couple of my friends that teach and live and die by the MEA have also elected to school of choice their kids since they started school. They lived and taught at other districts while sending their children to another. Now, one of the parent teaches in the district their children are in, and they have also moved there as well. This district is a wealthy area that you wouldn't think underpaid teachers could live in. They appear to be doing just fine with all the updates on their home and new cars every couple of years. I can't say that they are good teachers, but their parenting skills leave a bit to be desired. Change is needed and is necessary. It is the only thing that is constant and keeps us evolving.

The type of change this lady advocates is not the type needed. This is just another way for the right wing to support religious schools and funnel money upward to those who control private education.

Go back through your local school board's meeting minutes/transcripts and look at how many charter schools near you had failing grades or closed within 1 year. Look at how many students could not keep their vouchers due to grades and attendance. Where do they land? Public school. After funding has been siphoned away for more charters and vouchers. Yeah, let's keep doing that and keep blaming teachers. Makes total sense.

The voucher system is only another way for the GOP to funnel money upward to the rich who control these charter and private schools. It's a shame the gullible cannot see what the Republican agenda really is, to disenfranchise the middle-class and turn this country into one of the haves controlling the have-nots.

I would love to observe all of the above trolls who have little regard for the public school teachers, try to teach any lesson in a public school....Especially, middle school with 30 in the class and see how you do. You purchase the supplies, you provide the visual materials because most school are short on these teaching aids. You plan a relevant lesson and evaluate the lesson. No multiple choice tests please, have a rubric that validates that evaluation. Most public school teachers are not paid the equivalent of a babysitter's wage. They are demanded to do more with less and class sizes are beyond manageable. Yeah, for the charter schools where the CEO steals the public's tax dollars for their posh homes, expensive cars and even planes, yachts and exotic vacations. The rich feel they are ENTITLED to charter and private schools on the taxpayers dollar for their children but the middle class get the scraps and the inner city gets even less. But let's not allow the lower class in our private school they might sully our precious children.

Sooooooo, Trump supporters want school choice. Who do they think will be teaching at these schools? Teachers are teachers. If my underfunded low socio economic school closes in the future I'll snatch up a job at a charter or private school with no problem. Will a different SCHOOL change my teaching philosophy? No. I'll still do a great job and put my student's needs first.

great choice for DOE! Get rid of bad teachers and let parents have a choice for schools! abolish the dumbing down of our kids with common core! This is a day of celebration!

Not only does your ignorance of the current choice for DOE astound me, but your own level of intelligence and education is in question. I have spent a lifetime teaching in the well internationally.What is lacking is respect for the public educational system and today's educators. If you actually took the time and energy to research Trumps' choice you would not be so ill informed. PLEASE do not discuss situations you are OBVIOUSLY NOT prepared to discuss. In other words, DO YOUR HOMEWORK !!

Good luck with your new salary and lack of job security!

Are you a teacher? What is your experience with education?? Where do you live? You should visit the schools and see what excellent and dedicated teachers we have. !!! What is you proof that we are dumbing down our kids??? We have dumbed down the adults that voted for Trump... and this terrible pick for Education Secretary.

Great comment!

If the teachers unions hate her then she's the right person for the job.We have to get the unions & Feds out of the schools and return control to the states,locals school boards,& the parents.#MAGA

But isn't control by the states, local school boards and parents the bedrock of public education? You won't get that in a tax payer supported private system.

No teachers, no pay. No benefits....why should I even go into teaching your uncontrollable children with so little compensation. Unions are not the problem would not need them if rights were respected in the first place.

Since when is public education free? Has anyone looked at their property tax bill lately?

That is true, but those who support nonpublic education still pay the school tax as well as the tuition for the private school. I think there is far too much governmental intrusion in the school systems which takes away actual classroom teaching.

That is true, but those who support nonpublic education still pay the school tax as well as the tuition for the private school. I think there is far too much governmental intrusion in the school systems which takes away actual classroom teaching.

I fully support school choice. Thanks to Florida's voucher program both my sons received a decent education free from the socialist indoctrination being taught. They learned the core subjects plus history, science, civics. Until teacher's are free to teach and not spend half a year just teaching to pass a performance test! Our education system is screwed. Like all liberal agenda's the participation trophy is more important than actually doing your best!

In Michigan the Republicans try to control what we teach, and this is mandated by people who have never taught in their lives. All they do is get in the way, and devise ridiculous testing and hoops to jump through for evaluation after evaluation. By the way the plural of "teacher" is "teachers". The plural of "agenda" is "agendas". Simple sixth grade English, you simple fuck. Republicans just want more stupid student republicans and they want them in private schools so they can make a profit off to them, because republicans NEVER have enough money in their fat greedy pockets!

With all due respect, you need to go to school. Your language and spelling is atrocious.

I think for all you left winged liberal teachers, and professors, ( which is the real problem with our education system.) we should have a crying room for you. My God (hope I didn't offend anyone by saying God:))) Think about how foolish some of your idea are. Oh but we must be politically correct, diversified yada yada. How about being an American!!!

Your post is devoid of any content that shows you know anything about teachers. I bust my ass everyday teaching science to over 140 8th graders all while trying to address all of their individual needs. And every year gets harder bc of the draining public school resources. I come home physically and emotionally exhausted on a daily basis to take care of my own family on a salary that doesn't cut it. I do it because i care, not because i can't get another job. So stfu with your opinion of teachers and learn something about what it means to be one. Also trying learning what it means to be an American because you and you ignorance spewing are not a shining example.


I hope Mr T knows more about the ins and outs of an educator's work than he does about national laws and the Constitution.

I have to agree with the people that are against this post. This woman sends her kids to private schools, and is as far left as she can be. How trump came to the conclusion that she would be good for the office, is beyond me. The long and short of it is, you need to go to her bio, and make your decision. She has been for common core, but made the statement that she wasn't. She talks out of both sides of her mouth. In the end, it's all about the kids, and they are being short changed.


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