Educators and others protest Betsy DeVos' upcoming speech at Denver conservative conference

Posted at 4:26 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 20:10:03-04

DENVER – More than 100 people, led by a host of state educators, protested Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ upcoming appearance at a conservative conference in Denver at the state Capitol Wednesday.

DeVos, who has been criticized by many Colorado teachers and education administrators over her views on school choice programs, among other things, will speak Thursday at the annual American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in Denver.

DeVos criticized Denver Public Schools in March during a speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington, which ranked the DPS school choice system as tops in the nation for the second straight year this year.

But DeVos implied at the time that DPS was pushing a false agenda when it comes to school choice. She said Denver does not provide parents a voucher program, which the state Supreme Court has twice ruled was unconstitutional.

“Choice without accessibility doesn’t matter, just as accessibility without choices doesn’t matter. Neither scenario ultimately benefits students,” she said.

She also faced criticism from the DPS superintendent, and several of Colorado’s Democratic members of Congress for those comments.

Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner split their votes to confirm DeVos in early February after weeks of protests against her confirmation. Vice President Mike Pence had to break a tie in the Senate to confirm her as the new education secretary.

Attorneys general from more than a dozen states sent a letter to DeVos Wednesday asking her not to roll back an Obama-era order to increase scrutiny on sexual assault investigations at colleges and universities in the U.S.

Denver7 has requested an interview Thursday with DeVos, though she was traveling Wednesday and a spokesperson was unable to confirm if one would happen. We’ll be covering her speech Thursday.

Tap the image below for a gallery of images from Wednesday’s protest at the state Capitol, or click here.