Connecticut teachers, students protest DeVos' comments

Cheryl Sanders
May 30, 2017

The East Hartford community is taking action against U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Tuesday morning.

At a press conference Tuesday in East Hartford, Mr. Malloy pointed to the district's rising graduation rate as a mark of improvement now under way in the schools.

East Hartford High sophomore Kenny Diaz, 15, said the school Michael descrbed is not the one he attends.

"Betsy DeVos messed with the wrong district", union president Annie Irvine said at the rally. In her testimony, she relayed one student's experience and used his own words to describe the challenging circumstances he faced in high school. Irvine says "right now she's our biggest adversary".

Sheila Cohen, president of the Connecticut Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, said the rally tells DeVos people are watching and "questioning whether she is qualified for the position".

It's not clear if DeVos plans to visit the school, but a spokesperson defended her testimony. Connecticut Democratic U.S. Rep. John Larson and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy also spoke out against DeVos' comments. "Our school is not a unsafe place", said Daley.

"However, it strikes me as equally unacceptable that you attempt to malign East Hartford Public Schools as an illustration of all that is broken in public education".

"We're working hard to break the cycle of failure and poverty that oftentimes plagues numerous kids that we serve", he said. "If a student like Michael had a negative experience, those are the experiences we want to make sure don't happen in our hallways".

"They come to our games", said junior Michael Lachnicht, who also contributed to the letter.

"It's what the kids put into it", Ammann said. "East Hartford strong!" the Hartford Courant reported.

Responses to the district's latest climate survey show 96 percent of students "believe their teachers hold them to high expectations", and 97 percent of families believe schools "are safe, believe in our leaders and believe in the high expectations we have for our students".

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