On Friday, President Donald Trump’s newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was physically blocked from entering a public school in Washington D.C. by a small group of protesters. DeVos, came under intense scrutiny immediately after the Trump administration announced her appointment because she’s a billionaire donor who essentially bought her way onto his cabinet.
Parents held signs greeting DeVos as she approached Jefferson Middle School Acadamy in Southwest Washington, just a few miles from the Department of Education building. When she tried to enter the building, several protestors stood in front the door refusing to grant her entry. As DeVos left the scene, several demonstrators shouted “Go back! Shame, shame.”
Following the incident, DeVos did her best to put a positive spin on the situation.
I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education,” the statement said. “No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.”
The District of Columbia Public Schools also issued a statement saying that DeVos had “a productive meeting” with students and faculty.
WJLA reported that the Washington Teachers’ Union was the group behind the protest, however, the claim that union members were not among those who blocked DeVos’ entry to the school. The identity and affiliations of the protesters who blocked the secretary are unknown at this time. However, one of the protesters was arrested at the scene.
After the protest, several officials from the White House and other departments took to social media to voice their disapproval of the protesters’ actions.
Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway tweeted: Don’t we want the Sec of Education to visit schools?”
Don't we want the Sec of Education to visit schools? https://t.co/3PVirgMzJQ
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) February 10, 2017
President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, tweeted: “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”
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
Arne Duncan, the former education secretary under the Obama administration, tweeted: “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.”
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
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also weighed in on Twitter, saying: “This bears repeating: Protest – peaceful protest – is fine but we do not condone violence towards anyone.” The second part of that tweet said, “DC has the fastest-growing urban school district in America. We welcome @BetsyDeVos & anyone who wants to learn more about our schools.”
During her confirmation hearing, DeVos gave one of the worst performances of any Trump, cabinet nominee. She was unable to answer fundamental questions about the job and at one point cited “grizzly bears” as a rationale to have guns in schools.
While the protesters did not accomplish much other than making DeVos into some kind of twisted conservative “civil rights” symbol (cue the backhanded comparisons to Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, etc.), it also demonstrates how awake and aware much of the country’s become in the wake of the 2016 election. It’s never good to see people use violence of any kind against public officials. However, it says something that people are passionate enough to risk imprisonment in protesting someone in such a typically unremarkable position as education secretary.
Let’s face it, here in America we typically don’t pay much attention to the president’s cabinet picks unless they’re in a sex or corruption scandal. The fact that DeVos along with Trump’s other unqualified cabinet will be scrutinized and watched more closely, is a win for the Republic which was always based on active involvement by its citizenry. Now we just need to focus less on blocking doors and more on blocking destructive policies, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
Featured image via YouTube.