High School

Connecticut teachers union fires back at Betsy DeVos for 'adult day care' comment

A Connecticut community fired back at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday after she called a high school in the district "nothing more than adult day care" during a budget hearing last week. 

Students and parents, along with the East Hartford Education Association, a teachers union, gathered outside East Hartford High and chanted, "DeVos is wrong! East Hartford strong!" the Hartford Courant reported. 

"Betsy DeVos messed with the wrong district," union president Annie Irvine said at the rally. 

Last week, DeVos criticized the high school and said a former student, named Michael, described the place "a dangerous day care." The education secretary was speaking at a budget hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee last week. 

"Michael described a school where students were the real ones in charge of the class, and they would make it impossible for the teacher to teach," DeVos said during her testimony. 

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Some parents and teachers argued that DeVos' comments were "inexcusable." 

"We are here this morning because we cannot ignore the inexcusable and unforgivable attacks against our public schools and against our students. Betsy DeVos's uninformed assault on East Hartford Public Schools is reckless, and it is irresponsible," Sheila Cohan, the president of Connecticut Education Association, said in a statement on the group's website

The Department of Education Press Secretary Liz Hill said in a statement to Time.com that DeVos' testimony showed the challenges a student faced in a high school. 

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"The Secretary’s focus is on individual students and ensuring they each have access to a high-quality education that meets their needs. In her testimony, she relayed one student's experience and used his own words to describe the challenging circumstances he faced in high school. He, like so many other students across the country, needed another option but didn’t have access to one," the statement read.

"For anyone to assert that Michael’s individual story should be generalized to the broader student population is a symptom of the one-size-fits all status quo that too many continue to seek to defend. Michael is an individual student with an individual story to tell. He was able to rise above what he considered challenging circumstances and go on to excel academically. We should be applauding students like him."