Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, known for promoting the privatization of public schools, will make an appearance in Colorado Springs later this month in support of an organization that provides low-income children with scholarships to attend schools, including private institutions, outside their neighborhoods.
On June 26, she will attend the twentieth anniversary luncheon for Parents Challenge, whose program is heralded by conservatives as helping low-income students but seen by opponents as an attempt to demonstrate the efficacy of vouchers, which would allow students to use public-school funds to pay for private schools.
“Parents Challenge is dedicated to helping children escape failing schools by helping their parents exercise choice,” states the website of Parents Challenge. “We help parents learn about what education options are available and how to pursue them.”
Amy Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association, said DeVos “leads an anti-public education agenda that hurts kids and threatens our democratic process and values,” by working “to dismantle public education for the benefit of corporate greed.”
“She has promoted the privatization of public schools through voucher schemes, called for cuts to federal funding of public schools and special education programs and has rolled back protections for our most vulnerable children,” Baca-Oehlert said.
Some have attributed DeVos’ expected presence to her long-time friendship with real estate developer Steve Schuck, who began the organization with his wife in 1999.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, DeVos’ husband, Dick, received some guidance from Schuck during his unsuccessful 2006 bid for Michigan’s governorship.
The couple has also donated to Parents Challenge in the past.
In spite of Colorado Republicans’ apparent affinity for DeVos, the secretary doesn’t have any other public appearances planned for her Colorado trip.
“The 38,000 members of the Colorado Education Association affirm that the DeVos playbook to divert badly-needed public school funds to private schools undermines our work to help every student thrive and is not welcome here in Colorado,” said Baca-Oehlert.
The Parents Challenge twentieth anniversary event will be held at James Irwin Charter School at 5525 Astrozon Blvd in Colorado Springs near South Powers Boulevard and the airport from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26.
Advanced online registration and identification are required for entry.