Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is headed for Toronto this Thursday — despite the objections of the Ontario teachers’s union, Canadian Press reports.
Ontario Teachers‘ Federation president Chris Cowley told DeVos to stay home in a tweet that said, “She should keep her backwards ideas out of Ontario.”
The head of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation isn’t enthused about the visit either. In a statement, Harvey Bischof described himself as being “extremely concerned” about DeVos’s arrival because “Ms. Devos is a vocal proponent of programs that divert government funding away from public education and into private hands, to pay for tuition at private and religious schools.”
Bischof even suggested that the “[Ontario] Ministry of Education should reconsider this visit and send a strong, clear message to Ms. Devos and other proponents of privatization tha pubic education in Ontario is not for sale.”
Devos is a strong advocate for school choice and faced similar critics in the U.S. when she was facing her Senate confirmation hearing. She has not announced any plans for purchasing any public education while in Ontario.
Instead, she has plans “to engage with Ministry of Education officials from Ontario and other provinces visit local schools, and learn about U.S. Consulate support for U.S.-Canada higher education linkages,” according to education ministry spokesman Joseph Crook.
Although the Toronto Star notes that Hunger isn’t releasing any details on the trip, Ontario Education Minister Mitzie Hunter says Devos’s visit is an opportunity for the province to showcase the advantages of its education system
“We’re very proud of our education system in Ontario and we welcome international delegations who come here to learn from us and to really meet our great teachers and educators in our system,” she said.
Hunter suggested that the U.S. could learn plenty from Ontario schools such as its kindergarten program that runs all day for students. She also mentioned how inclusive Ontario schools are.
That inclusiveness has generated as much controversy in Canada as DeVos has in the U.S. Hunter recently said Ontario schools had an obligation to allow Muslim students to have Friday prayer sessions on school time and on school property and that public criticism of this practise was “racist.”