While public schools are trying to figure out how to open during a pandemic, public education advocates are criticizing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for social distancing in her Holland, Michigan, mansion that is protected by around-the-clock security paid for by taxpayers. DeVos is the only cabinet official with this security agreement, and it has cost the taxpayers $25 million.
Instead of offering guidelines for schools to reopen, DeVos has said she was mostly working remotely from her home in Michigan, a 22,000 square foot lakefront property, with a mostly empty public schedule for the past several weeks.
Among events not listed on her public calendar DeVos has held events including several sponsored by the Federalist Society, events related to private schools and voucher advocacies, as well as a roundtable event at a Christian school in Ohio and two events with Mike Pence in the Carolinas.
A group called Protect Our Public Schools has been behind a traveling billboard making its way across the state with messages on it such as “stop hiding in your mansion” and “start protecting our kids.” The group is a collection of teachers and parents upset with the Trump administration for the push to re-open schools.
“I as a former teacher am very appalled by what’s gone on with Secretary Devos,” said Ellen Offen, vice president of POPS. As a former teacher she wants Devos to give schools safer options this year.
“She said she’s been doing puzzles and riding her bike this summer, well that doesn’t help our kids when schools don’t have what they need, schools don’t get what they should,” Offen said.