Newly confirmed United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — who wants guns to be allowed in schools for protection from grizzly bears — has officially seen, firsthand, the strong public opposition to her new gig.
In her first visit to a public school as the head of the Department of Education on Friday, DeVos was blocked by a group of protesters from entering a Washington, D.C. middle school, ABC News reports.
Although the group of demonstrators was small, they created a barrier to the entrance of Jefferson Middle School Academy, which forced DeVos to turn around and get right back in her car.
"She doesn't represent anything that they stand for," one protester said. "Shame. Shame. Shame," repeated another.
Handful of protesters now standing in front of SW DC middle school ahead of visit by Sec. Betsy DeVos pic.twitter.com/uzhuyeXEeE— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) February 10, 2017
The protest garnered various reactions ranging from support for the demonstrators to condemnation of their action.
Not just obstruction*ism*, but actual physical obstruction.https://t.co/AT2lLvZCCQ— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) February 10, 2017
Not sure what I think about this. As a debate coach, I teach students to analyze all viewpoints. Can you do that by refusing to listen? https://t.co/ZdUFfZ7ZQQ— Jeff Stutzman (@INdebatecoach) February 10, 2017
This is bold local action. Proud of my city. https://t.co/DkozAmgMwH— (((Ethan Miller))) (@ESMiller59) February 10, 2017
Eventually, DeVos made her way into the school building, but not before protesters gave her a piece of their minds.
After DeVos met with the D.C. Public Schools chancellor and superintendent, the school’s principal, teachers, and students, she offered a statement about the protests.
“I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education. No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children," the statement read.
"Focusing on their students and families is at the heart of Jefferson Academy’s approach, and that’s exactly what I believe is at the heart of providing an exceptional education,” she added. “Great teachers and leaders help make great schools, and I was honored to speak with Jefferson’s team about our shared commitment to strengthening public education.”
The highly publicized protest triggered responses from other political figures, including Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who all mostly echoed each other’s sentiments.
DC has the fastest growing urban school district in America. We welcome @BetsyDeVos & anyone who wants to learn more about our schools.— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) February 10, 2017
Just heard a protester blocked & almost knocked Secy @BetsyDeVos down at Jefferson.We don't condone such acts.We want her to go to pub schls— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) February 10, 2017
Don't we want the Sec of Education to visit schools? https://t.co/3PVirgMzJQ— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) February 10, 2017
Agree or disagree w @BetsyDeVos on any issue, but let's all agree she really needs to be in public schools. Please let her in.— Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) February 10, 2017
One thing’s for sure, with so many Americans against DeVos being placed in this position, she has much to prove.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters