The San Diego Unified School District has decided not to vote on a resolution that would have extended an invitation to newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
The resolution would have invited DeVos to come to the district on a "fact-finding mission to learn what the school district is doing to create quality public schools in every neighborhood, so that she can collect the data needed that will allow her to base her decisions on what is best for students rather than on any political ideology."
In a statement, Board President Richard Barrera said he initially co-sponsored a resolution inviting DeVos to visit, with Trustee John Lee Evans.
In an interview with NBC 7, Barrerra said by inviting DeVos to San Diego, DeVos could “see how a community comes together to produce great outcomes for kids.”
To clarify: Our school board is not inviting Secretary of Education Betsy #DeVos to visit SDUSD.— San Diego Unified (@sdschools) February 13, 2017
The resolution faced firm pushback from educators, parents and other stakeholders.
The leadership of the San Diego Education Association objected to the resolution.
In a statement, they wrote, in part: “SDEA's 7,000 members believe San Diego Unified School District’s time and energy is better spent ensuring educators, students, and parents that it will stand with us in continuing to improve public education, while opposing any efforts to dismantle public education or divide our communities.”
In an interview with NBC 7, Union President Lindsay Burningham said that"Betsy DeVos has spent her life trying to dismantle education in Michigan, one visit to an amazing district like San Diego Unified is not going to change who she is or what she's planning to do. Also, we have a lot more things we need to focus on in San Diego,” referring to the budget deficit.
“Now is not the time and place” to invite DeVos, Burningham added.
Barrera says more than just the teacher's union objected. Parents and community partners were also concerned.
Some of the biggest objections came from people concerned about what he says is the fear among students regarding the president's stance on immigration.
Given the polarizing nature of the nomination and confirmation vote, Barrera said, a visit would be the wrong time to have that discussion. Barrera withdrew his support for the resolution, effectively killing the measure.
"Now is the time for those of us who believe in public education to stand together and confront the threat clearly posed by the DeVos ideology," Barrera said in a statement.
He added that it was not the board's intention to exclude anyone from the conversation by moving so quickly.