Houston Federation of Teachers on U.S. Education Secretary’s Visit  

Houston, TX— Statement by Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ visit today to Houston-area schools following Hurricane Harvey:

“Houston public schools were hit in the gut by Hurricane Harvey’s devastating floodwaters. We’re glad Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is visiting to check on the condition of Houston-area public school buildings; making our schools safe and healthy requires as much support and resources as possible. And given the serious damage to schools and lost learning time, we remain adamant that accountability measures such as standardized tests should be canceled this year and the savings used to rebuild schools.

“Regardless of what’s going on in a school or community, DeVos thinks the answer is more ‘choice’—specifically privatization, charter schools and vouchers. She might find a receptive audience in Humble Independent School District Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen, who strongly supported vouchers during her recent tenure in Douglas County, Colo. But last week, Douglas County voters had their say and soundly rejected that strategy by electing an anti-voucher, pro-public school slate of school board members. We need a laser-like focus on giving our students safe and welcoming public schools with engaging and well-rounded curriculum, along with services that help students overcome the challenges of poverty and other obstacles.”