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Further protests expected against Betsy DeVos – this time in Seattle

Protesters campaign against US education secretary's right wing agenda. Source: Reuters/Mary Schwalm

Betsy DeVos – the US Education Secretary – is set to face further protests when she appears in Seattle on Friday.

DeVos will make her first appearance in Seattle at a fundraising dinner for the Washington Policy Center think tank at Bellevue’s Hyatt Recency Hotel.

Since her appointment in February, the Education Secretary has been criticized by education groups and families for advocating charter schools.

Charter schools are privately owned, yet publicly funded through school vouchers.

This essentially diverts tax funds away from public schools and instead creates a business culture where schools are competing for demand.

Although DeVos claims charter schools offers parents and students autonomy over which institution to choose, she has drawn criticism for failing to consider the effects the funding cuts will have on public schools.

Several education groups are already planning on protesting against the education secretary at her Seattle appearance.

The Equity in Education Coalition wrote on their Facebook event promoting the protest: “We MUST keep our education systems open and available to EACH AND EVERY child!

“OUR COMMUNITIES are the stakeholders of our public educational system – NOT corporations, NOT billionaires and NOT private voucher systems!”

Sharonne Navas, executive director of the Equity in Education Coalition told The Seattle Times: “We’re one of the farthest cities from Washington, D.C. but we feel the ripples of the policy changes just as much as they would be felt in D.C.

“It’s time for (DeVos) to understand that the Seattle area will stand by its progressive ideology.”

The Education Secretary revoked Barack Obama’s guidelines on how higher education institutions should handle sexual assault complaints.

She also showed ignorance toward the Disabilities Education Act; a federal law that requires public schools to make accommodations for disabled students, and stood against transgender children having bathroom rights.

“She has been clear she doesn’t care about civil rights,” Navas said.

Despite the controversy regarding DeVos’s Seattle visit, it is set to go ahead.

“She sees what we are doing currently does not seem to be working, which is the view of the policy center,” Dann Mead Smith, President of the Washington Policy Center told The Seattle Times.

“We spend more money on education, and whether it’s Democrat or Republican leadership, it doesn’t change much. We are hoping she might have some other out-of-the-box ideas that could actually help students.

“Why would you not want to hear from the country’s top education official, whether you agree with her or not? We felt like we should give people the opportunity to hear from her.”

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