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Teachers unions kept from delivering complaints to DeVos
The two largest teachers unions in the U.S. were blocked from delivering "failing" report cards to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) were among the groups that attempted to deliver more than 80,000 report cards to DeVos grading her performance during her first year in the job.
However, the groups were blocked from entering the Education Department building because they did not have an appointment.
AFT President Randi Weingarten tweeted that the groups had requested an appointment with the department and that officials knew they were coming, but that they were still blocked from delivering the report cards.
"They knew that teachers and parents and students from all over the country have actually taken their time to say what is going on in their schools. And here on Betsy DeVos's anniversary, this is the first time that I have ever been to this building where we were not let in - where the educators, where the students, where the parents of America were locked out of the federal Department of Education," Weingarten said at the event, according to The New York Times.
Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill told the Times that the department had a long-standing policy to not allow anyone into the building who does not have an appointment, and that the groups could send a representative to "deliver their feedback" to DeVos.
"It's unfortunate that instead of working to have productive dialogue, the unions decided it was important to pull teachers out of the classroom for a two-hour political publicity stunt - for which they shot their own footage to send to media outlets," Hill said.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García told the Times that the complaints focused on the department's budget, which includes $9 million in cuts, and the rescinding of several protections for disabled students.
About 90 percent of the report cards gave DeVos a failing grade, according to a press release about the planned protest. The Washington Teachers' Union, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and Badass Teachers Association were among the other groups set to attend the event.
"It's her actions that speak louder than any talking points she may have," Eskelsen García told the Times. "People are universally appalled, universally aghast by a year of failures. She should resign; she should make way for someone who is qualified."
DeVos has had a tense relationship with the union leaders, who have repeatedly slammed the actions taken by the department under her leadership.
The Education Department has made deregulation a central component of its first year under DeVos, including rescinding guidance on the rights of disabled students and moving to limit the scope of civil rights investigations at schools.