The San Diego Board of Education was going to vote on a resolution to invite new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to visit the city’s public schools so that she could make “decisions based on what’s best for students rather than on any political ideology.” But the resolution was pulled before the vote after teachers unions complained to the labor-friendly panel.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the resolution was co-sponsored by the board’s president, Richard Barrera, a former labor leader, and board member John Lee Evans. Barrera issued a statement Monday, before the resolution could be put up for a vote, that it was being withdrawn because it was, after all, not a good time for her to visit the district. He said:
“Given the polarizing nature of the DeVos nomination and confirmation vote, however, it is clear this would be the wrong time to engage the Secretary in dialogue. Now is the time for those of us who believe in public education to stand together and confront the threat clearly posed by the DeVos ideology.”
DeVos was the most controversial nominee for education secretary in the history of the nearly 40-year-old department and was confirmed by the Senate only after Mike Pence became the first vice president in history to break a tie to confirm a Cabinet nominee. Her longtime support for school choice and her history of talking about traditional public schools as a “dead end” sparked intense opposition to her confirmation across the country, and two Republican senators decided to vote against her along with every Democrat.
DeVos recently visited a public school in Washington, but before she could enter, she was turned away at one entrance by protesters. After that episode, several prominent critics of DeVos urged protesters to allow her to enter public schools so that she could learn about them. During her Jan. 17 Senate confirmation hearing, DeVos displayed a lack of knowledge about key education issues, and her critics said she wasn’t qualified to be education secretary because of that and her longtime advocacy for school choice over traditional public schools, which educate the vast majority of U.S. schoolchildren. Supporters said she would make a fine education secretary.
The new education secretary may find friendlier ground in New Mexico, where Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera “absolutely” would welcome a visit to any New Mexico school by DeVos, said a spokesman for Skandera, who was thought to have been considered by President Trump as education secretary when he was president-elect.
The resolution that was pulled was not what anybody could call DeVos-friendly. It said in part that the invitation was being extended to visit the San Diego Unified School District “on a fact-finding mission to learn what the school district is doing to create quality public schools in every neighborhood, so that she can collect the data needed that will allow her to base her decisions on what is best for students rather than on any political ideology.”
Here’s the full resolution that was pulled: