VERONA, N.J.- On Saturday a high school junior from Verona High School, Izzy Williams, organized a protest at Verona Park against the nomination of Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee.
From 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., about 200 people gathered to the protest, including some local teachers who work in the Paterson School district, with signs saying, “No to DeVos,” “Dump DeVos,” and “K-12 Not for Sale” to express their dissatisfaction to President Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education.
“I wanted to start the protest to ensure that every child would have the opportunities that I have had in school. I'm an AP student and involved in many school activities that rely on school funding to operate,” Williams said. “With DeVos's voucher policy, it would take away the funding that these things need. She would not be the solution to fix underperforming schools or improve good schools.”
In addition to this controversial education pick, Paterson education advocates have had an uphill battle this school year with the consensus being that the state will give control of the district back to the city. Advocates such as Corey Teague, who opposes giving back control, have commented on the large number of donations pouring into the board of ed elections, which he himself lost this past November.
"She (DeVos) paid Millions of dollars to corporations, politicians and so forth to get that office. She has zero experience in the public school classroom, zero experience in filing out a student loan application, zero experience in ever having to take out a PELL Grant, yet she will be in control of billions of dollars of Pell Grant funds. I believe we are witnessing the end of public education in America if things continue to go the way they are going" said Teague.
The Paterson Education Association, which represents Paterson teachers, has also been critical of DeVos since her nomination. PEA President John McEntee Jr. said in an email to TAPinto Paterson last night that "Betsy DeVos' nomination for Secretary of Education is a slap in the face to all public school students, parents, and educators. Mrs. DeVos has zero experience as an educator and has never worked in education or a public school. It is important for all students, parents, and educators to contact their elected representatives and any elected official on the fence nationwide to demand they vote NO during the confirmation process". DeVos has since been confirmed this morning.
Moments after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie breaking vote in the senate to confirm Betsy DeVos her, New Jersey Education Association President Wendell Steinhauer also chimed in and issued a statement to teachers unions across the state."We stood up for our profession, and America saw us. And while we didn’t quite win this vote, we showed that we have the numbers, the determination and the passion to keep fighting for as long as it takes. And that’s exactly what we are going to do. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat" said Steinhauer. He then urged teachers and parents to "Please take a minute right now to sign up as an Education Activist so we know you are on the team for every challenge still to come. We’re just getting started".