Graduating students turn their backs on Betsy DeVos at University of Baltimore


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s dangerously radical ideas did not sit well with these graduates. And they let her know it.

In her short tenure as Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has confirmed all of her critics’ worst fears about her.

A longtime billionaire GOP donor and school privatization advocate with no experience in education whatsoever, DeVos has decimated her department, and federal oversight of education generally.

She has rescinded civil rights protections for disabled students and rape survivors, and eliminated debt relief for victims of for-profit college scams.

Unsurprisingly, many students around the country are not fans of hers.

Among the number of those who want her out are the graduating class of the University of Baltimore, where DeVos gave a commencement address on Monday.

In a powerfully symbolic moment of resistance, many of the graduates turned their backs on her.

Turning one’s back on a commencement speaker has a history as an expression of protest on college campuses. The tactic was also used by the students of Washington University in 2008 to protest a speech by the late right-wing mega-activist Phyllis Schlafly, who successfully sank passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.

In May 2017, Mike Pence was on the receiving end of such a protest, when a massive throng of students walked out of his commencement speech at Notre Dame.

And DeVos inspires equal rage in those around the country who value education. She was previously heckled and shouted down by students at another commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University.

DeVos should pause to ask herself why she inspires such anger in people who seek to pursue learning — and what place she has in an agency which seeks to promote values that she has undermined at every turn.