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University of Baltimore students stand against DeVos commencement speech, privatization agenda

by Brian Washington

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Student leaders at the University of Baltimore have collected thousands of signatures demanding that the school rescind its invitation to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to speak at this year’s fall graduation.

This follows a crowd of students staging a protest yesterday to take their concerns about DeVos public.

“I grew up in the Baltimore public school system,” said Benita Vargas-Brown, a senior at the school. “I do social work and I work with kids who come into the school system who need behavior plans and additional assistance in order to be successful, and so often the resources aren’t there. Betsy DeVos just continues to pull resources out of that environment and give them to private schools.”

DeVos, who has proven on numerous occasions that she is unqualified for her new post, backs a privatization agenda that includes vouchers. Vouchers use public dollars to subsidize tuition at private and/or religious schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers and the general public. They also drain scarce dollars away from public schools and the vast majority of students who attend them. DeVos and President Trump support a federal budget proposal that calls for a $1 billion national voucher scheme.

On social media, educators and those who support public schools sided with university students and pointed out that DeVos is an enemy of public education.

“Stand up, speak up, do not remain silent! DeVos is in direct contradiction to all of our American values!” — Harriet Unger Sandberg

“Good for the students. The university president ought to be ashamed.” — D.E. Gaffney

“Perhaps the University of Baltimore needs a new president if this is any example of the type of decisions he makes. Call out the president, President Kurt Schmoke, and let him know that America does not support this poor decision.” — Bill Owens

The anti-DeVos commencement petition crafted by the UB Student Government Association has collected more than 3-thousand signatures.

“This decision was not made in any way by the faculty, student government, or the student body as a whole. Invitations to speak were extended solely by the University President, Kurt Schmoke,” reads the petition. “This is not what UB students want. The overwhelming majority of UB students and alumni, as well as the Baltimore community in general are appalled at this decision. UB is a place that supports social justice and equality, and students consistently fight for what is right in the Baltimore community.”

Meanwhile, students at the UB Law School want to make sure their voices are heard regarding future law school commencement speakers. The Student Bar Association is currently drafting a policy to ensure that student input is included in such decisions.

Meanwhile, U.S. News & World Report reports that one week before the announcement of DeVos’ commencement speech, President Schmoke’s first cousin, Julian Schmoke Jr., got a big job within the U.S. Department of Education. He now leads a unit that looks at fraud and abuse within colleges and universities across the country. President Schmoke says DeVos’ commencement speech and his cousin’s appointment are “unrelated” and are a “coincidence.”

TAKE ACTION: Pledge to protect quality public schools for all students. Join us in the fight against vouchers.

6 responses to “University of Baltimore students stand against DeVos commencement speech, privatization agenda

  1. Betsy Devos was asked at her confirmation hearing if the reason she was appointed was not because of her knowledge of education, but because she and her family had donated so much money to Republican candidates.

    Her answer was that was a possibility.

    Her performance makes that possibility a probability.

  2. Devos her brother bought her place in the #666 white house. She is not qualified to do anything on earth & neither is dumpster.

  3. Discussed? Maybe ‘disgusted’. Anyway, I agree totally. These pissant students don’t want to hear anyone say something that might offend their little fascist ears. Where is the NEA when it comes to hearing differing Opinions? This country is in trouble. Public discourse is now so vulgar and hostile. I fear for our future. Thanks liberals for destroying what used to be the last hope of mankind. MAGA!

    1. Fascism: “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
      synonyms: authoritarianism · totalitarianism · dictatorship · despotism · autocracy · Nazism · rightism · nationalism · xenophobia · racism · anti-Semitism · jingoism · isolationism · neofascism · neo-Nazism”
      Now that we can agree on Mirriam-Webster, please enlighten us as to why you claim free speech is fascist, while right-wing agenda, which only helps white male rich people, is not.
      It’s not that listening to this unknowledgeable woman is a bad thing; in fact, please allow her to blather on. It’s the responsiblitiy of any educational system–university or K-12, to advocate for students.

  4. As an Alumnus, if the University rescinds the invitation I will disassociate myself from any further relationship with the school. I am becoming more and more discussed with the antics of University and College Administrators , Instructor and so called students across the country and while I may have to tolerate it, I certainly do not have to contribute to it.

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