LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The swearing-in of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is sending shockwaves through the nation’s second-largest public school district.
Los Angeles Unified School Board President Steve Zimmer put it this way:
“I’m very concerned because real injury could happen to real kids in real-time, especially the most vulnerable.”
The billionaire heir to the Amway fortune, who was educated in private schools, is an open advocate for school vouchers, which would provide tax dollars to families to help them pay for private and religious schools, money that would not be used to fund public education.
“I think she’ll be a welcome change for the system as a whole and will benefit the system nationally,” DeVos supporter Brian Mahoney said, when asked outside his child’s private school.
Patricia Evangelis does not support the new education secretary, even though her grandchild also attends the private school.
“But what about the children that can’t afford to come to a school like this?” Evangelis said. “Not everyone can afford this, luckily my daughter can.”
The school board president says L.A. Unified will refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement even if the new education secretary threatens to withhold federal funds.
“This is a dangerous moment for public education,” Zimmer said. “If we, because of pressure or because of fear, back down from that sacred bond and trust that we have, then we’re not really public schools. Then we’ve abandoned our mission and our promise to all parents.”
The California Charter Schools Association declined to comment on the DeVos confirmation but the National Association for Public Charter Schools provided a written statement which says, in part:
“We believe that Secretary DeVos will put students and families first and we look forward to working with her to ensure each child has access to a high-quality public school and a safe and supportive environment in which to learn.”