LeBron James spoke last week at the opening ceremony for the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, a public school the NBA star helped underwrite. (Phil Long/AP)

LeBron James or Betsy DeVos? If you could pick from two candidates to be U.S. secretary of education and those were your candidates, whom would you pick?

That is the conceit of an online petition posted late Tuesday on Care2.com and titled “LeBron James for Secretary of Education.” By midday Thursday, there were 11,348 signatures, and the surge of signatures caused organizers to keep increasing their goal.

James, the best professional basketball player in the world, has been in the news recently for more than just his move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Los Angeles Lakers. His family foundation recently helped fund and open a public school for at-risk children in Akron, Ohio, a move public education advocates applauded.

James, who has been a strong, public voice for civil rights, as well as a Trump critic, last week found himself the target of a racist tweet, along with CNN’s Don Lemon, from President Trump:

Now, there’s the petition (reported on by the Hill), which nobody expects to result in a career move for James. But it can be seen as a new statement of discontent by critics of the Trump administration and DeVos, who has long been a detractor of U.S. public schools and who once called them a “dead end.”

James chose to open a traditional public school, not a charter school. Charters are publicly funded but privately operated and a favorite of DeVos.

This is how the petition presents James and DeVos (the full petition is below):

The first candidate is famed athlete LeBron James, a highly respected and extremely influential community advocate and activist who recently opened a state-of-the-art public school for at-risk children in Akron, Ohio — with community services on-site like job placement for parents, guaranteed college tuition for every student who graduates, and a score of other student services like a FREE bicycle and helmet.

The second candidate is Betsy DeVos, a scandal-ridden Republican donor who shows an inexcusable dislike for public education, wants to gut protections for women and minorities, and has advocated for teachers to be armed in schools. 

LeBron James for secretary of education?

The U.S. president is a former reality show host and businessman whose companies filed for bankruptcy six times. He opened up the for-profit, non-accredited Trump University, which is now defunct. The school triggered lawsuits amid accusations of fraud. Trump settled for $25 million.

DeVos is a Michigan billionaire who spent decades supporting alternatives to traditional public schools, never attended a public school, never sent her children to one.

You can decide how far-fetched it seems: Education Secretary LeBron James.

This is what the petition says:

Pretend there are two candidates for U.S. Secretary of Education — the federal cabinet position responsible for the education future of over 74 million children in the country — and YOU get to hire them.

The first candidate is famed athlete LeBron James, a highly respected and extremely influential community advocate and activist who recently opened a state-of-the-art public school for at-risk children in Akron, Ohio — with community services on-site like job placement for parents, guaranteed college tuition for every student who graduates, and a score of other student services like a FREE bicycle and helmet.

The second candidate is Betsy DeVos, a scandal-ridden Republican donor who shows an inexcusable dislike for public education, wants to gut protections for women and minorities, and has advocated for teachers to be armed in schools. 

It would be an easy choice, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, Trump and his cronies chose Betsy DeVos for us and we are stuck with an uncaring Education Chief who has fought against teachers and has even expressed disdain for the very department she heads . . .  at least until now.

Sign my petition calling for DeVos to be fired and LeBron James to be named as U.S. Secretary of Education! LeBron James is an inspiration to kids all over the country. He’s shown he cares about America’s youth and understands the power of public education in helping children meet their true potential.

Betsy DeVos was hired without ever setting foot in a public school — and she’s taken every opportunity to work against the interests of the children, teachers, and families she has pledged to serve. We certainly deserve better!

I know that’s it’s unlikely that LeBron James would give up his highly successful career — especially since he has been generous enough to use that influence to be an inspirational community and youth advocate for millions. Even more unlikely is that LeBron would ever stand to work for Donald Trump and his hateful rhetoric . . . but it’s worth a try!

Sign and share my petition to kick out DeVos and for LeBron James to be our new Secretary of Education!