BELLEVUE, Wash. – It is the final push for Sharonne Navas with the Equity in Education Coalition. Her team worked into the night on Thursday in hopes of sending a message to the country that education reform doesn't work under the direction taken by United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“I think our concern is the privatization of public education," Navas said.
DeVos will speak Friday night at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue at the invitation of the Washington Policy Center, a free market think tank that wants to hear her ideas for charter schools, vouchers and school choice.
“What is her vision for allowing parents to choose alternatives if that's what they want?” Paul Guppy said. “That is what we are interested in. Fresh new ideas from the administration, what does the secretary have, what are her ideas for improving education."
However, Navas believes the focus should be on fully funding public education rather than siphoning away scarce dollars to private organizations. She believes national policies should focus on making education excellent at every public school, no matter what city or neighborhood a student lives in.
“And that's not a promise that Betsy DeVos really understands and it's not a promise that she could in any way, shape or form keep," Navas said.
Guppy said the taxpayer dollars that go to public schools are meant to educate kids, not bolster a bureaucracy or a teachers union. He says it’s time to look at giving families more choices, rather than telling them their children must be assigned to a school that’s failing.
“Basically what they are saying is families have to stay trapped in schools that are not working for them,” Guppy said.
Bellevue police say they are preparing for as many as 5,000 protesters to show up and will be focused on safety during the event.
“We've got extra staff that will be on hand to manage this event,” said Bellevue Police officer Seth Tyler. “We have our team members from our crowd control team that will be there as well as Valley crowd control. And we have officers from the Seattle Police Department."
Police plan to shut down Bellevue Way in front of the hotel starting at 4 p.m. Friday with closures possibly lasting up until 9 p.m.