Students plan anti-DeVos rally at Statehouse

Students are organizing a rally on the Statehouse steps Thursday, to protest Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as education secretary.

“Betsy DeVos has no public school education experience, has never attended a public school, and her children have never attended public school,” the rally’s organizers, People for Unity, said on a Facebook event page promoting the rally. “There has never been a secretary of education with this lack of experience. We need to show her that we are watching and will take action if she tries to violate our right to a public education.”

Organizers are encouraging students to walk out of class to attend the rally, which begins at 10 a.m.

Bill Roberts of the Idaho Statesman explored the student walkout aspect of the rally in a story Tuesday.

One principal asked the student organizers to move the rally to the lunch hour, but the organizers told Roberts the timing was meant to send a message.

Students who attend the event without parental permission could be marked down for an unexcused absence. Superintendent Don Coberly said the district is considering sending notes to parents before Thursday’s walkout.

The students organizing Thursday’s rally, Nora Harren of Borah High School and Colette Raptosh of Capital High School, also helped organize a Jan. 21 Women’s March on Idaho. This rally drew thousands of people to the Statehouse.

DeVos was confirmed as education secretary on Feb. 7, after opponents launched a full-scale telephone and email campaign to defeat her nomination. DeVos was confirmed only after Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 Senate deadlock — marking the first time a vice president was forced to vote on a Cabinet nomination.