A petition aimed at replacing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos with NBA star LeBron James has gained thousands of signatures since it launched Tuesday.
The Care2 campaign, posted by a woman who identified herself as Rebecca G., had garnered more than 26,000 signatures by Friday morning.
In the petition, James was noted for his work for children and the community, including his opening last month of the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
“LeBron James is an inspiration to kids all over the country,” according to the petition. “He’s shown he cares about America’s youth and understands the power of public education in helping children meet their true potential.”
Meanwhile, the petition said, “Betsy DeVos was hired without ever setting foot in a public school – and she’s taken every opportunity to work against the interests of the children, teachers and families she has pledged to serve.”
DeVos, a billionaire who spent years lobbying for private school vouchers and other public-school alternatives, has faced criticism since she was sworn in as education secretary in February 2017. She’s seen as a “bold reformer” to supporters while critics have questioned her dedication to public schooling, The Washington Post reported.
James’ I Promise School, part of Akron Public Schools and funded by the school district, the LeBron James Family Foundation and community partners, benefits at-risk students, according to Akron Beacon Journal. Students get meals, a bicycle, a helmet, uniforms and other essentials, CNN reported. Students also have the chance to attend the University of Akron free of charge.
During an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon to celebrate the school’s opening last week, James said sports have always united people. However, he said President Donald Trump has been "using sports to kind of divide us."
"I wouldn't sit across from him," James said. "I'd sit across from Barack (Obama), though."
The comments drew criticism from the president, who said in a tweet on Aug. 3 that Lemon “made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”
“I know that it’s unlikely that LeBron James would give up his highly successful career – especially since he has been generous enough to use that influence to be an inspirational community and youth advocate for millions,” Rebecca G. wrote in the Care2 petition. “Even more unlikely is that LeBron would ever stand to work for Donald Trump and his hateful rhetoric … but it’s worth a try!”