Opposition To Betsy DeVos In Utah Brings Unexpected Unity

Jan 31, 2017


As Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos moves through confirmation hearings in Congress some Utahns are speaking out in opposition.

On Monday a group of about 150 protesters gathered in downtown Salt Lake City to voice their disapproval of DeVos.

 

Heidi Matthews, the president of the Utah Education Association—the largest teacher’s union in the state—was in attendance, and she was surprised by the variety of people who showed up.

 

"The newspaper said that it was mostly teachers but it really wasn’t," says Matthews.

 

Matthews says she chatted with a nurse, a med student, a Verizon specialist. All expressing concern about DeVos’ record as someone who has worked to privatize public education.

 

Along with DeVos' performance in senate hearings which exposed some ignorance about education law and the department’s role.

 

“And that might be the silver lining that comes out of all of this," says Matthews. "Who has ever paid attention, aside from educators, to who the Secretary of Education is in the past?"

 

Matthews says the skepticism toward DeVos is also shared by some unlikely partners, including anti-common core groups who typically oppose the teacher’s union.

 

The public protest was organized by Utah Indivisible, a group that aims to oppose Trump’s agenda through community involvement.