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US Education Secretary DeVos met by protestors during Nashville visit

Posted at 6:53 AM, Apr 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-01 20:24:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/AP)  — U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is visiting a public charter middle school in Nashville.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and DeVos both toured LEAD Cameron Middle School Monday morning and talked briefly about the Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program.

DeVos is a vocal supporter of school vouchers and believes parental school choice can increase academic performance.

"As we've seen in Florida, for example, where students have opted to go to schools other than their assigned school, all of the schools, all of the performance, all of the achievement has continued to rise for the kids staying in the neighborhood schools and for the ones who have chosen the right fit for them," said Sec. DeVos.

DeVos was met by protesters as she made her way into the school, many of whom are parents who said they're worried the ESA program will have a harmful impact on the state. One former teacher said the program would result in the defunding of public schools.

"I'm very frustrated with Betsy DeVos because she doesn't look at the science," said Abigail Taylor. "She doesn't pay attention to the people who spent their lives studying these things. And she doesn't ask the people who are living it. The teachers and the educators and the principles. She doesn't ask them what you need, she just assumes that she knows and time and time again, vouchers have been proven to not work."

Lee, a Republican who took office in January, wants to make it easier to open high-quality charter schools and shutter poor performing ones. He's also proposed boosting the number of parents who can use education savings accounts.

"We always want to make certain that anything we do will strengthen our public schools and that is the approach here. It's to provide access for every kid to have quality education in Tennessee," said Governor Lee.