DeVos Has a ‘Heart’ for DREAMers. But That’s About It.

By Chyrise Harris

While President Trump took to his usual 140-characters last Thursday to tip-toe around his support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program his administration plans to “wind down,” Tom Boasberg, Superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, (DPS) tip-toed on the heels of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her Colorado visit to implore her to use her office to protect the hundreds of DREAMers learning and teaching throughout DPS.

Surely Boasberg could have navigated the technological limitations of Twitter to share his own thoughts on the issue. Instead, he opted for the oldest, and some might say, the most reliable form of communication that has ever existed—personal delivery.

It’s true, instead of chasing DeVos all over cyberspace, Boasberg sent a messenger from his team to deliver a personal letter to DeVos along her travel route through Colorado.

Why not just pull her aside during a visit to one of his schools? Well, that would require her to have actually visited a DPS school, which she did not.

In fact, DeVos didn’t visit a single school in any of Colorado’s largest districts throughout Denver, Douglas or Jefferson counties.

Nonetheless, Boasberg was determined to share a few words with DeVos. Chalkbeat Colorado published the letter late last Wednesday night.

But why would the superintendent of Colorado’s largest district need to chase the visiting U.S. Secretary of Education through cyberspace or anywhere else once she broke through the clouds of the Mile High City’s airspace?

That’s because she had no plans to visit any of the schools in the abovementioned districts. And her agenda wasn’t even announced until Tuesday.

DeVos and her team did stop by one of Colorado’s autism centers serving students with special needs as well as the Air Force Academy.

Perhaps the secretary had so many requests from smaller, rural school districts that she felt compelled to honor those?

Maybe she didn’t want the protesters that heckled her during her July visit to Colorado to create a distraction for students and teachers in the larger school districts?

Or could it be that she didn’t know what to say to the face of a student who comes to school wondering if their parents will be home when they return. Is it possible that she just didn’t have the words to comfort the high school seniors who spent the summer thinking about what colleges to apply to but who now question whether the application is worth their time?

There are plenty of causes for speculation on why DeVos visited or did not visit certain schools. And while she may have the “heart” for DREAMers, she may not have had the words.

But does that really matter now that she’s flown in and out of Colorado? What matters now are the voices of students, parents, teachers and even superintendents, using their words to rally support, invoke empathy, and influence change.


Chyrise Harris is the director of media relations for Education Post. She joined Education Post to amplify the unique voice and experience of students, parents and teachers in Colorado and across the country. Having grown up in Colorado since she was three-years-old, Chyrise attended public schools in the Cherry Creek School District, Douglas County School District and later graduated with a journalism degree from Colorado State University. With great appreciation for her own education, Chyrise sought to ensure that other students in Colorado had the opportunity to learn about and gain access to high-quality schools in Denver. After earning her master’s degree from Emerson College in Boston, she built a career in communications and marketing on the east coast before returning to her nearly-native Colorado to make an impact in her own community. She worked in the communications office at Denver Public Schools where she supported communications for one of the district’s largest turnaround efforts. She also managed a portfolio of regional schools, using marketing and communications to support SchoolChoice and student enrollment. After leaving Denver Public Schools, she headed to STRIVE Preparatory Schools, one of the district’s largest charter school networks, to lead strategies in brand development, marketing and communications.
Chyrise is passionate about educational equity and believes that all kids deserve and can receive an exceptional education in Colorado classrooms where no two students look the same, learn the same or dream for the future quite the same.

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