DeVos and Weingarten, combatants on education, meet in rural Ohio district

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited an Ohio school district Thursday at the invitation of one of her chief critics, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who used the occasion to make a case for investment in public schools.

The two combatants in the nation’s education battles met for several hours, touring classrooms and hearing from teachers and students in Van Wert, a rural community of about 11,000 in northwestern Ohio.

Weingarten said her goal was to show DeVos the good things happening in public schools. She also wanted the secretary to see how the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts would undermine successful programs in a place where voters overwhelmingly supported President Trump, and where there are few choices beyond public schools.

Trump has proposed slashing the Education Department’s spending by $9 billion, including funds for after-school programs, teacher training and smaller class sizes.

“Van Wert proves that support for public schools transcends politics,” Weingarten said at a news conference where she thanked DeVos for making the trip. “We wanted to cram as much into today as possible so that she and I saw what is possible . . . in terms of public education.”

DeVos, a longtime advocate for vouchers and charter schools, has emphasized that she favors providing more choices to families, and has disputed claims that she wants to dismantle public schools. Before Thursday, she had visited eight schools while in office, including two charter schools, two private schools, three traditional public schools and one school run by the Department of Defense.

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