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Betsy DeVos' Trip To North Texas Met With Protesters Outside Dallas Middle School

Gage Skidmore
Wikimedia Commons
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has attracted controversy for her stance on school vouchers, visited North Texas Thursday.  

DeVos spent the majority of her trip in Dallas. She visited Urban Specialists, an anti-violence nonprofit, and Billy Earl Dade Middle School later in the afternoon.

In front of reporters, she told Dade’s principal she was impressed and inspired by changes made on the campus.

“Every time I am able to visit and see and experience first-hand a school like this that has turned a corner and done the hard work of change, to be able to share that broadly and say it is possible, that’s really the beauty of visiting a wide variety of schools,” she said.

Just a few years ago, Dade was considered the worst of more than 30 middle schools in Dallas ISD. The district attracted highly rated teachers and a respected principal to the school, as part of the district's ACE program, which stands for Accelerating Campus Excellence. The district pays skilled staff to teach at some of the most troubled schools.

Now, Dade is considered one of the district's top middle schools.

Before Devos arrived at Dade, protesters with the Texas Organizing Project and Next Generation Action Network gathered outside.

They're concerned about her stance on spending public education money on private schools. They're also worried about the Education Department rolling back Obama-era civil rights enforcement they say better protected students.

Retired Dallas educator Deborah Webb said DeVos favors publicly funded private school vouchers, and that will hurt schools like Dade.

“When we rob our public schools of funding, what we do is open the gates of poverty, we open the gates of prison and the welfare system,” she said. “Education is their key, and education is going to open the doors of their future.”

Earlier in the day, DeVos spent time in Tarrant County visiting the Birdville school district's Center for Technology and Advanced Learning in North Richland Hills.