Education Secretary DeVos speaks in Bellevue, met by protests

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speak in Bellevue. (KOMO News)

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue on Friday night.

DeVos spoke on improving education in the U.S. She was invited to the event by the Washington Policy Center, a free market think tank that wants to hear her ideas for charter schools, vouchers and school choice.

"I wholeheartedly believe real choice cannot be accomplished through a one-size-fits-all mandate at the federal level," DeVos said.

DeVos also addressed her critics head on saying that teachers unions miss the point when they condemn her desire to invest in students and not systems.

"Their focus is on school buildings instead of school kids. Isn't education supposed to be all about kids?" DeVos said.

Before the speech, DeVos was greeted by peaceful protesters Friday afternoon outside the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. The Equity in Education Coalition organized the protest.

Bellevue Police said they prepared for as many as 5,000 protesters to show up.

Among those who attended were Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Ferguson told the crowd that his office is suing DeVos for siding with for-profit corporations and rolling back protections for student borrowers.

"She's just choosing the wrong side right now and hurting middle class families in our state," Ferguson said.

Protesters accused DeVos of catering to the rich and wanting to privatize education.

DACA student Graciela Nunez Pargas told KOMO News that she wouldn't have made it to college without public school.

"My education is not for profit. So looking at DeVos' policies is appalling," Nunez Pargas said.

Police closed Bellevue Way Northeast Eighth Street to Northeast 10th Street Friday night for the protest.

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