Nearly 300 high school and college students walked out of class Thursday morning to rally on the Statehouse steps and voice their opposition to Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s education secretary.
The crowd of students, parents, lawmakers and educators rallied for two hours. The group repeatedly chanted: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, DeVos has got to go!”
“This sends a message to our government that students and citizens do not support the education system proposed and advocated for by our secretary of education,” said Nora Harren, a senior at Borah High School.
Harren and Capital High School senior Colette Raptosh organized the rally. The two girls are behind the Idaho People for Unity campaign, which led the Jan. 21 Idaho Women’s March.
“We feel DeVos will create a de facto segregation in our school system based on factors such as economic status, gender, race and sexuality,” Raptosh said.
“I skipped class because I don’t agree with DeVos and her agreement on having guns in schools because of bears,” said Antonio Oros, a sophomore at Capital.
Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, Rep. John McCrostie, D-Garden City, and Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, attended the event and spoke with teens about their concerns.
“I feel so happy to see this engagement,” Wintrow said. “These kids are invested into their future and are making a statement.”
Idaho EdNews had nearly 50 comments about the rally on its Facebook page Thursday morning. EdNews follower Tara Mart disagreed with the rally.
“Why not teach the students to keep a watch on what DeVos does in her new position, to pay attention to how her decisions play out, to give her a chance rather than teaching them that everything you disagree with requires a disruptive protest?” Mart said.
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.