Counter-rallies planned for Betsy DeVos’ visit to Bellevue

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is coming to Bellevue today.

And her anticipated presence has sparked hundreds to plan their protest on Facebook.

DeVos will attend the Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner at Bellevue’s Hyatt Regency and will speak on education reform. Members with the Washington Policy Center expect 1,500 to attend the dinner and call it the “largest and most prestigious annual policy event in the state.”

Neil Cavuto with Fox News is also a keynote speaker.

In a blog post by Liv Finne, the director of the Center for Education at Washington Policy Center, she explained why they chose DeVos to speak.

“First, as U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos is one of the top policy leaders in the country,” Finne wrote. “She administers $68 billion in federal grants to schools, including $22 billion in Pell Grants that benefit low-income students. Thousands of families in Washington state depend on these programs.”

Finne’s second and third reasons included DeVos’ leadership of the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and that she is recognized as the nation’s leading proponent of school choice.

“… If a child faces learning difficulties, bullying, or racial barriers at a traditional public school, that family should have the right to choose a different school,” she continued. “Also, school choice is much more common today than in the past. Not only do 5 million children attend private schools, but 3.1 million students in 43 states attend public charter schools.”

Finne went on to say 400,000 children in 31 states and Washington D.C. receive vouchers, tax credit scholarships or education savings accounts to attend private schools.

The fourth reason, Finne added, is that DeVos has seen how the Washington D.C. voucher program has closed the achievement gap between “minority and white students, resulting in unacceptably high drop-out rates for students of color.”

Finne said those who are most upset about DeVos’ visit to Bellevue “are those who gain most under the current system,” calling out the Washington Education Association and their need to “maintain their power” and keep “mandatory dues money flowing to their back accounts.”

However, Equity in Education Coalition of Washington, an organization who has 700-plus confirmed to attend their protest today against DeVos, states otherwise.

In a web post, members of the coalition say DeVos supports “privatizing education, eliminating the regulatory oversight of private schools funded by public dollars, and eroding America’s public education.”

“So far in her time as Secretary, DeVos has made it a priority to disempower the Office of Civil Rights, which handles discrimination charges and protects the most marginalized of students,” the post reads. “She has repealed protections for students repaying loans to fund their higher education. And, at every chance, DeVos has advocated for privatizing public education, a controversial and, at many times, unsuccessful mission of hers, that will serve to the detriment of students everywhere.”

The coalitions writes DeVos is the “last person” who would be influencing Washington’s education policy as the state is “on the brink of crafting a plan that will fully fund K-12 education for each and every child.”

The Equity in Education Coalition of Washington is just one organization that plans to counter-rally. The WEA-Sammamish Uniserv Council, which represents Bellevue, Mercer Island, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Snoqualmie, Tahoma and Riverview, will counter-rally as well.

Michele Miller, the president of the WEA-Sammamish Uniserv Council, said they hope to bring attention to DeVos’ agenda to privatize public education.

She said she thinks it’s sad that DeVos is attending a political fundraiser – the annual dinner is $350 a seat – with a message that schools are failing under the current public education system. And, yet, she is coming to a district, Bellevue School District, which is one of the best performing in the state and country. Miller pointed out that, to her knowledge, neither DeVos or her team has inquired about visiting any of the schools either.

More in News

President’s emergency declaration sparks immediate legal backlash

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his team will sue the White House if federal funds originally intended for Washington state are interrupted.

Bill targets sexual health curriculum in Washington schools

Senate Bill 5395 is co-sponsored by 17 Democratic representatives and introduced by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline.
Study shows King County’s treatment funding is making progress

A document on the county’s .1 percent health sales tax was accepted Wednesday by the county council.

Children’s play area at Seadrunar. Photo by Lauren Davis via Facebook
Seedy side of Seadrunar: Drug rehab center accused of neglect, exploitation

Public records reveal that Seattle facility was accused of neglecting children and clients in its care.

Representative Suzane DelBene and Redmond resident, Yasmin Ali attended the State of the Union last week. Photo courtesy of Suzane DelBene Twitter.
Redmond’s Ali attends State of the Union with Rep. DelBene

DelBene invited Ali as her State of the Union guest.

New Friends of Youth CEO, Paul Lwali, will replace Terry Pottmeyer. Courtesy photo.
Friends of Youth hires new CEO

Pottmeyer steps down; Lwali becomes new Friends of Youth CEO.

Russell Wilson and Ciara spoke Friday at the Tukwila Library to Foster students and other attendees as their Why Not You Foundation joined forces with the King County Library System and JPMorgan Chase to launch the DREAM BIG: Anything is Possible campaign. Photo by Kayse Angel
Russell Wilson and Ciara launch DREAM BIG campaign

Partnership with King County libraries dovetails with scholarship program for local students.

Somali community faces SeaTac displacement

Proposed redevelopment threatens the heart of the Somali business community.

Most Read