Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to tour Denver autism school, Air Force Academy on Wednesday

Posted at 4:35 PM, Sep 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 19:42:03-04

DENVER – U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will make stops in Denver and Colorado Springs Wednesday as part of her tour to “rethink” education.

DeVos will visit the Firefly Autism House in Denver Wednesday morning for a tour of the school and a roundtable talk with its administrators and teachers.

She’ll then head down to the U.S. Air Force Academy for a tour before going to Omaha, Nebraska for a visit to a university.

Firefly says it plans to show DeVos and her team the wide array of treatment and education programs offered for students with autism, some of which work to someday have the students placed in a public school environment.

“I welcome Secretary DeVos and thank her for requesting to tour Firefly and learn about the amazing work happening here that is changing the lives of children and families living with autism,” said Firefly Executive Director Jess Ogas. “We welcome anyone who has interest in learning about autism and how we work to support education for children on the autism spectrum.”

DeVos visited a school in Casper Wyoming Tuesday to kick off her tour of Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas to promote her “Rethink School” tour.

DeVos was most recently in Colorado when she gave a speech mid-July at the American Legislative Exchange Council conference in Denver.

She pushed for more school-choice and voucher programs during the speech, but both her appearance and speech were met with protests from educators from across Colorado.

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.