2019 | Schools

Student School Board Member Chastises DeVos on Social Media

Twitter, Instagram posts draw attention

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U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, left, and Nate Tinbite, the student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education at the National Blue Ribbon Schools recognition ceremony in National Harbor last week.

Photo from Nate Tinbite

The student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education took a jab at national Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday afternoon in a social media post.

Nate Tinbite, 17, five months into his one-year term on the board, spoke Thursday afternoon at the National Blue Ribbon Schools recognition ceremony in National Harbor.

DeVos, the U.S. education secretary under President Donald Trump known for her pro-charter school and school choice positions, attended the event.

On Twitter on Friday afternoon, Tinbite posted a photo of himself, with a stoic expression, next to a smiling DeVos. He captioned the photo “Only one of us believes in public education.”

By Tuesday morning, the post had been retweeted 126 times and favorited more than 1,000 times.

Tinbite posted the same photo and caption to his Instagram account, where it got more than 4,000 likes and 250 comments.

In a follow-up comment, Tinbite made clear that the post was his opinion and did not reflect the school board’s opinion or the school system he represents. Montgomery County school board members are generally soft-spoken and don’t often publicly speak out against individuals or organizations.

DeVos has promoted privatizing public schools and has rolled back protections for minority and LGBTQ students, positions Tinbite said he does not support. DeVos’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

Tinbite, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School, was elected this year as the 42nd student member of the Montgomery County school board. He has full voting rights on the board and can vote on issues ranging from budgets and school boundaries to personnel decisions and policy making.

Tinbite previously served as president of the Montgomery Student Government Association and is co-founder of the student activist group Montgomery County Students for Change.

The student member of the Board of Education is not paid, but receives a $5,000 college scholarship and one honors-level high school social studies class credit.