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Protesters say they are upset that we at the Washington Policy Center invited U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to speak at our annual fundraising dinner in Bellevue Friday.

Many families are satisfied with their public schools, but many schools, especially in urban areas, are not working for families. If a child faces learning barriers, bullying or racial injustice at school, that family should have the right to choose a different school.

School choice is not controversial in many states. Today, 3.1 million students in 43 states attend charter schools. In our state, 2,400 children attend charters, and most have lengthy waiting lists.

Executives at the Washington Education Association union are fearful and angry about DeVos’ visit. They see DeVos as someone who is disruptive, asks too many questions, listens too much to parents and poses a threat to their position of power. They want to keep their dues money flowing and keep children trapped in failing schools.

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We’ve heard plenty from those who want to silence DeVos and prevent people from hearing her message of hope and improvement for children. We at Washington Policy Center may not agree with everything DeVos has to say, but we will vigorously defend her right to say it.

Liv Finne, director for education reform, Washington Policy Center