U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a longtime advocate of charter schools, was visiting both private and public educational institutions during a busy two-day schedule in Miami-Dade.
DeVos traveled in a sports utility vehicle under the guard of Secret Service special agents. She started her Thursday morning at the Christian Academy for Reaching Excellence Elementary School in Miami's Overtown, a formerly segregated neighborhood.
"Every kid deserves a great education and schools like CARE Elem. in Miami are making that possible for kids who may have otherwise struggled," DeVos tweeted after the visit.
On social media, CARE's administrators tout a safe environment with access to technology and extracurricular activities. They count on the help of private benefactors. The list includes Odebrecht, Keyes, Valero Texas Open, Home Depot and AmTrust Bank.
The Miami Rescue Mission's Board of Directors founded CARE in 2015 with about 80 students. They had the help of the Florida Department of Education's tax credit scholarship program. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's foundation, which advocates for privatization, is a supporter.
The law provides state tax credits for contributions to the nonprofits Academic Achievement Accessible Scholarship Foundation in Tampa and the Step Up for Students in Jacksonville this year. The Florida tax credit cap for 2016-2017 was about $559 million. It's expected to be higher next year.
DeVos busy day continued with a tour of the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University, a public research university in Miami-Dade. Alexander Acosta, President Donald Trump's nominee for labor secretary, is the dean of FIU's law school.
In one of the most affordable four-year universities in Miami-Dade, students told DeVos that more needed to be done about the affordability of a college education. After meeting Victoria and her baby Matthew, the two mannequins at the nursing school, during a tour with FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, DeVos also met with Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho and the FIU trustees.
Outside of their private meeting a few protesters at FIU confronted her about the criticism that she faced during her nomination. Many opponents of privatization attacked her over her lack of experience with public education.
"You don't know anything about schools," a protester shouted. A Miami New Times video shows the protester also asked her about her brother Blackwater founder Erik Prince's alleged ties to Russians close to Putin. Outside a student held a "Bearly Qualified" sign, as a crowd chanted: "Protect our schools!"
DeVos sped away from FIU for a meeting with Armando Perez, better known worldwide as Pitbull and "Mr. 305." She and the Grammy-winning rapper spoke at Sports Leadership and Management, a charter school he co-owns in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.
Pitbull behaved at the school managed by for-profit Academia, founded by Fernando Zulueta, who is related to former state legislator Erik Fresen. The super star didn't perform his sexually-explicit "Toma" or dance to "Timber," a song about women "twerking in their bras and thongs."
Pitbull also didn't talk about the resources that public schools are losing to charter schools like SLAM, which opened in 2013. According to a 2015 analysis by The Associated Press and The Miami Herald the state gave more than $760 million to charter schools since 2000, of which as much as $70 million in capital funding were lost to schools that later closed.
DeVos' Friday schedule includes plans to visit the Royal Palm Elementary School, an A- grade public school near the Kendall neighborhood in Miami-Dade and Miami-Dade College's Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.