RCP – Education Secretary Betsy DeVos addressed a friendly gathering of conservative state legislators Thursday and promised to minimize the federal government's role in education policy and allow states, local officials, parents and teachers to lead the way.
Only 24 hours before her remarks, hundreds of protesters surrounded the Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver to demonstrate against DeVos and her agenda. Signs that read “Go home DeVos,” “Keep public education public” and “DeVos is wrong for education” greeted the attendees of the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an influential nonprofit organization made up of primarily Republican state legislators and private sector representatives who coordinate and develop legislation at the state and local level.
But inside the hotel, the atmosphere was warm and buzzing with anticipation. Taking the stage, DeVos joked that it was the first event she's been to as secretary where the protesters “aren't here just necessarily for me,” a reference to ALEC's reputation among Democrats and liberals.
DeVos praised ALEC and its members for being the “laboratories of democracy” and declared that states and local officials are better suited to meet the needs of students and teachers than “someone perched in Washington, D.C.” Throughout her address, DeVos emphasized she would reduce the footprint of the U.S. Department of Education. “Education is best addressed at the state, local and family levels,” she said.