Several hundred high school and college students walked out of class at noon on Tuesday to protest President Donald Trump’s policies on a host of issues that they say promote “bigotry, hatred and prejudice.”
The students gathered at Foley Square in Manhattan for a rally that coincided with the Senate’s confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary.
DeVos, widely criticized as unqualified for the position, became the first cabinet nominee in history to be confirmed by a tie-breaking vote cast by a vice president, who sits as president of the Senate. Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote.
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"Betsy DeVos was confirmed today despite her shameful inexperience and complete lack of understanding for the very job she seeks," one student speaker shouted into a loudspeaker, according to local news media.
DeVos, a Michigan billionaire, is viewed as advocate of “school choice” and a proponent of using tax dollars to finance Christian schools.
Organizers of Tuesday’s rally used a Facebook posting titled, “Students Resist!: A Walkout for a Better Tomorrow,” to publicize the student walkout. Trump’s immigration orders were the primary focus of the protest, but organizers urged students to be watchful about the new president’s actions.
"Even though there was a temporary halt on the Muslim ban," organizers wrote on Facebook, "we must remain vigilant. Focus on the next issue. Focus on the injustice that went unnoticed."
"This is a learning space. This is a classroom. This is a lesson in civic history," city Public Advocate LetitiaJames told the crowd, according to the Gothamist. "Throughout history it's always been young people who have stood in the face of intolerance and indifference to demand tolerance and demand love."