FILE - In this April 10, 2019, file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies before the House Education and Labor Committee at a hearing on 'Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education' on Capitol Hill in Washington. Education, it’s safe to say, is not President Donald Trump’s top priority. Instead, he entrusts that realm to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who after two years has emerged as one of the most polarizing figures in the Cabinet but also one of its most enduring members. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Education chief says teacher strikes 'ultimately hurt kids'

May 06, 2019 - 3:31 pm

BALTIMORE (AP) — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Monday that recent teacher strikes have "ultimately hurt kids" and that labor disputes should be handled outside the classroom.

DeVos made the comments in Baltimore while speaking at a conference for education journalists.

Teachers from West Virginia to California have walked out of classrooms in recent months to protest working conditions and call for better benefits. Many of these teachers have demanded changes including higher pay, smaller class sizes and more classroom funding.

When asked if she supports teachers who have gone on strike, DeVos said she thinks "great teachers need to be well-paid," but issues should be resolved without disrupting school instruction.

"I think it's important that adults have adult disagreements on adult time, and that they not ultimately hurt kids in the process," DeVos said. "I think too often they're doing so by walking out of classrooms and having arguments in the way that they are."

DeVos, who has often been at odds with major teachers unions, said it's up to states to resolve issues with their teachers.

Educators in Oregon could be the latest to go on strike, with tens of thousands expected to walk out Wednesday in protest of class sizes and education funding. It would follow a string of recent strikes in Los Angeles, Denver and Oakland, along with statewide walkouts in West Virginia and Oklahoma.