Kentucky and Minnesota’s 2019 teachers of the year reportedly skipped a formal White House ceremony on Monday in protest of President Trump’s school-choice policies and to stand up for marginalized students. Jessica Dueñas—from Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools—told the Louisville Courier Journal that she skipped the event because she felt the administration was “attacking public education.” “Why come to D.C. and smile and get an award and not stand up for my students?” she told the newspaper. Minnesota’s Kelly Holstine also said she was making a statement due to the plight of marginalized students in her classroom. “It’s not enough to tell our kids, ‘It gets better,’” Holstine said. “We need to make it better for them now.”
While Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was present at Monday’s event, President Trump reportedly skipped out on it. According to the newspaper, last year’s national teacher of the year—Mandy Manning of Washington—wore pins protesting the administration’s LGBTQ and immigration policies in front of the president. Manning also reportedly handed the president a bundle of letters from immigrant and refugee students.