LANSING, Mich., April 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Protect Our Public Schools (POPS) strongly condemned financial support from U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her family for one of two groups that organized today's "Operation Gridlock."
The event was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the DeVos-backed Michigan Freedom Fund to defy and protest prudent stay-at-home, public health orders from Governor Gretchen Whitmer. According to organizers and supporters of both groups, it was deliberately designed to gridlock streets around the Governor's residence. However, the protest took place within a mile of a hospital treating patients of coronavirus, which has sickened 30,000 and killed more than 1,700 in Michigan alone.
"Families are losing loved ones every day to COVID-19 across Michigan, but some extreme political groups want to endanger lives by defying common-sense orders and advocating forcing kids to go back to school during a pandemic. These protests insult the people risking their lives to keep hospitals and essential services running," said Ralph Arellano, president of Protect Our Public Schools, a retired teacher and Flint resident. "As a billionaire who was a funder of one of the groups that hosted the protests, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should have demanded they stand down to protect Michigan families, including school children and teachers for whom she's responsible."
As the Detroit News reported in 2018, two years into Secretary DeVos's tenure as U.S. Education Secretary, "The [Michigan] Freedom Fund, which includes multiple non-profit organizations, has longstanding ties to the DeVos family. Family members contributed a combined $250,000 to a separate but affiliated Freedom Network independent political action committee between April 21 and July 20, according to state records."
"It's unthinkable that the U.S. Education Secretary – a cabinet official who is supposed to protect Americans and our students – is funding these types of groups," said Ellen Offen, a former teacher and Advisory member of Protect Our Public Schools. "They're advocating we lift public health protections, and even reopen schools when there is no plan in place from Secretary DeVos about how we could do so in a safe manner."
About Protect Our Public Schools
Michigan public schools are under attack from greedy corporate interests and anti-public school ideologues. Protect Our Public Schools is a community of teachers, retired educators, students, parents, and citizens who are dedicated to protecting our public schools. Protect Our Public Schools operates as a section 501(c)(4) tax exempt organization.