DC parents, teachers plan to hold "vigil" during DeVos visit
WASHINGTON - Parents and some retired teachers are planning to gather outside a DC middle school Friday during a visit by the new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The Washington Teachers' Union will be holding the parent-teacher "vigil" at Jefferson Middle School Academy in Southwest beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, when DeVos is expected to visit.
"The intent of today's vigil is to make it clear to Secretary DeVos that we support strong, walkable, public community schools of right in every zip code of our city," Washington Teachers' Union President Elizabeth Davis told FOX 5's Bob Barnard over email.
"Hopefully, Secretary DeVos's visit to Jefferson Academy will help her to understand the need for us to support and fund our public schools," Davis added. "Based on comments Secretary DeVos made during her nomination hearing, her lack of knowledge about the IDEA Federal law that protects and support our most vulnerable children, we understand the concerns that teachers, parents and students are feeling about her visit and appointed position as Education Secretary."
Secretary DeVos faced a bruising confirmation battle and extreme backlash from Education Department staff members, parents, students and teachers from around the country. She secured her confirmation in the Senate on Tuesday by the slimmest possible margin, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a historic tie-breaking vote after two Republican senators opposed her.
With the federal government accounting for about 10 percent of education spending and with most federal budget decisions requiring congressional approval, DeVos will have little financial influence. She will however, be able to shape policy discussion, initiate and promote various innovations and affect civil rights matters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.