ERIE, Pa. — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos does not have to guess how some people feel about her. Signs like “Dump DeVos” greeted her upon arrival at Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School on Monday afternoon.
Keystone Progress, Erie County United, and NextGen Pennsylvania hosted the rally, which featured students, teachers, elected leaders, and other concerned citizens who spoke to the crowd.
“Unfortunately, the Betsy DeVos stance is you put kids last,” said Rich Askey, vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. “You put private interests in front of public school interests, and that’s why we’re so against what her agenda is: to strip our public schools of the needed resources.”
Erie School Board directors were invited to meet with DeVos. Some of them accepted the offer, even if they opposed DeVos stances; but director Robbie Fabrizi chose a different route.
“Anything I would’ve said would’ve been diverted by somebody in the room. So, I would rather stand out here with the people that understand education–understand how charter schools and vouchers affect our schools…”
Not only were demonstrators upset with DeVos’ policies, but some of them questioned her credentials.
“She’s only sent her children to private schools. She has no idea what the world is like for a private student,” said Hannah Gibson, a fellow of NextGen America.
They want more funding for schools. They said some of that money could support school security.
“We want those protections, but we can’t get them; because we don’t have enough funding. Or if we do have the funding, it all goes to there; and we don’t have enough money for textbooks,” said Sara Skwaryk, a member of Erie County Student Coalition and a recent graduate of Girard High School.
The message of disapproval also came from the Erie County and Pennsylvania chapters of the Democratic Party as they denounced the positions of both DeVos and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, who attended meeting.