Education secretary, VP in Wisconsin to again promote private schools.
About 50 protesters demonstrated Tuesday morning outside the Waukesha STEM Academy Saratoga campus as Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos came to the school to hold a roundtable promoting private school vouchers.
Icy chants of “shame” echoed down the street as Pence’s motorcade drove up to the school, and former students and current staff of the middle school spoke out against vouchers and systemic racism.
“They stand for everything that we’re against,” said Megan David, an art teacher at the school.
About 1,200 current and former Waukesha public school students have now signed a letter demanding a more diverse and equitable school district.
The letter’s authors said in a statement Monday night that the district’s decision to host DeVos and Pence, who have repeatedly advocated for diverting public funds to private schools, was “an insulting response” to the students’ earnest calls in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“This invitation makes it painstakingly clear that the Board of Education is not listening to our community, instead prioritizing the hate and bigotry of the Trump administration and its ideology of privatized, unregulated school,” the authors said.
Jake Richmond, a 19-year-old graduate of the STEM Academy Saratoga campus, said he was proud to see how the community was responding to the district’s invitation.
“We have a hateful and divisive administration that’s coming into a public school that I went to,” Richmond said, adding that he was happy with the turnout for the protest.
A couple hours later, Pence made his way to Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee for a “Faith in America” event. Once again, protesters were there to greet him (although the motorcade did not come past the demonstration).
About 65 gathered with Black Lives Matter signs and LGBTQ pride flags. Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway and former Republican Gov. Scott Walker also spoke.
Heather Godley and her daughter, Cat, came from Greendale to protest Pence’s appearance.
“It would have been just as easy to go to a march in Milwaukee for Black Lives Matter … but I think this is an opportunity to really show up to show DeVos and Pence and Walker that even if they think this is a Republican stronghold, there are still people willing to come out,” said Godley, a social studies teacher in the Racine Unified School District.