DeVos Tour Highlights Trump Administration’s Attacks on Public Schools

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For Immediate Release

Tuesday, September 17

Contact: Neil Bhaerman, OFT Communications Director

   (412) 266-4899,

DeVos Tour Highlights Trump Administration’s Attacks on Public Schools

“Education Freedom Scholarships” will continue to divert public money to private schools.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stopped in Cleveland to visit the public MC² STEM High School and EDWIN’s Leadership and Restaurant Institute as part of her Back to School tour. According to press materials from the Department of Education, the focus of DeVos’ tour is promoting her Education Freedom Scholarships proposal, which is another attempt by the Trump Administration to funnel public money into private religious and for-profit schools.

“While we welcome Secretary DeVos to see the incredible work that is occurring in our Cleveland public schools, it’s an insult to the students, parents, and teachers in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for her to tour a public school while focusing on a proposed plan that would ramp up the depletion of public education funding,” said David Quolke, President of the Cleveland Teachers Union. “At all levels of government, we need leaders who will fund our future by ensuring public school students have the resources they need to succeed. It’s shameful that our Secretary of Education would rather funnel those resources to unaccountable private institutions.”

Cleveland city schools lost 119.5 million to charter school deductions and $21.2 million to voucher deductions in the 2019 fiscal year, and may lose even more in the future following the Ohio legislature’s slipshod expansion of EdChoice private school vouchers. While DeVos claims that the $5 billion in tax credits for her proposed Freedom Scholarships would not divert public money to private schools, the Washington Post awarded her “Three Pinocchios” for obscuring that, “What’s being proposed is a dollar-for-dollar tax credit, meaning taxpayers would end up footing the cost of the scholarships…”

“While the Secretary continues her ideological campaign against quality public education, serious issues—like the department’s failure to fix the broken public service loan forgiveness program—are left unaddressed,” said Quolke.

Earlier this month it was reported that the Department of Education rejected 99 percent of Public Service Loan Forgiveness applications submitted during the program’s first year. Rather than fix this program, which incentivizes working in public education and other public service careers, the Trump Administration has proposed eliminating it completely.

“We have real needs in our schools, including expanding physical and mental health services, lowering class size, and providing access to technology and newer textbooks,” said Shari Obrenski, an AP Social Studies teacher at Jane Addams High School and Vice President of both the CTU and Ohio Federation of Teachers. “The Secretary of Education should work with us and educators around the nation to close the education gap between rich and poor schools, rather than find new ways to drain our public schools of the resources we need.”

“Betsy Devos’ tour focused on her voucher scholarship program is just another reminder that she only wants to fund the futures of some kids, those whose families opt out of public schools,” said Melissa Cropper, OFT President. “As Secretary of Education, DeVos needs to remember that it’s her job to help all students access the best quality education.”

While the Department of Education has said DeVos’ tour is framed around her Freedom Scholarship proposal, the site of her Cleveland visit MC² STEM High School is an innovative public school that models a rigorous STEM education in a non-traditional environment through trans-disciplinary curricula, hands-on projects, and community partnerships.


The Cleveland Teachers Union represents more than 5,000 teachers and education professionals. The Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) is comprised of more than 50 local unions representing 20,000 members who are active and retired public school teachers, charter school teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty and staff, and public employees. CTU & OFT work to advance quality education and a voice in the workplace for Ohio’s education professionals. CTU and OFT are affiliated with the 1.7 member American Federation of Teachers.