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Protestors in Grand Rapids hold mock funeral procession for public education

Oct 8, 2017

Critics of U.S. Secretary of education Betsy DeVos held what they called a funeral march for public education today in Grand Rapids.

DeVos, a Grand Rapids native, has been criticized for supporting school choice, and most recently for rescinding Obama-era sexual assault guidelines for college campuses.

The group of about 50 protestors walked throughout downtown, criticizing DeVos' policies while holding signs, banners and even fake caskets.  

Skylar Hill is with the Michigan Student Power Network, an organization comprised of students from several college campuses around the state seeking social justice.

Hill says DeVos’ policies and the recently ended ArtPrize festival sparked the idea for a funeral march.

“DeVos is killing public education, and we thought a funeral march would be more creative and artistic than an ordinary protest,” Hill said.

Protestors march with signs showing disapproval of Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education.
Credit Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Andrew Towers was among the group of protestors. He says DeVos's policies have further segregated public schools.

“I believe that education is at risk of becoming a privilege rather than a right,” Towers said. “Public schools are for every kid in this country, not just the wealthy ones.”

Mary Minnick drove more than two hours to get to this protest. She says she will protest until DeVos is out of Washington.

“She's not qualified for the position she got in the Trump administration. It was given to her, not by the voters, but by [Trump],” Minnick said.