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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Met With Protest At Rockford High School

Peter Medlin
Education Secretary DeVos shakes hands with students at Jefferson High School in Rockford.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' 2019 back-to-school tour was met with protest at Jefferson High School in Rockford on Monday.

DeVos said they chose Jefferson because of the school’s career-oriented programs in manufacturing and entrepreneurship.

And, DeVos said, because schools like Jefferson are “looking at and thinking about doing things differently to meet students’ needs and to embrace the multitude of pathways that we have to be supporting for students.”

Credit Peter Medlin
Protesters hold up signs outside of the school.

Protesters wore red to represent the importance of public education. The Illinois Education Association president released a statement criticizing DeVos’ track record of proposing funding cuts.

Jo Minor was one of the protesters. She came with Rockford’s League of Women Voters.

“She’s ruining Title IX, she’s doing away with the protections of sexual assault that were incorporated into previous administrations and she’s using taxpayer money to fund private schools -- which is anathema,” said Minor.

DeVos said she didn’t see the protesters, but that she’s focused on helping students wherever they learn.

“We need to honor and celebrate and respect great teachers and support them in their careers. And make it a career they’re attracted to and drawn to -- and have reason to stay for their full professional life,” she said.

Credit Peter Medlin
DeVos observes students working in their machine shop.

Earlier this summer, the country’s largest teachers union sued DeVos over the public service loan forgiveness program that rejected 99% of applicants.