As protests swept the nation this weekend, you may have overlooked the wave of pushback against Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Education Department.
From Los Angles to Washington, D.C., students, teachers, parents and public school advocates are demanding that the Senate reject her nomination. Critics are objecting to her lack of qualifications, her numerous conflicts of interest, her connection to dark money influence in politics and her lack of knowledge about the basics of education policy.
As I report for Raw Story, DeVos’s background, stated views, and charitable giving represent a political and cultural extremism incompatible with the federal government’s role in education.
The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on her nomination. If they approve, her name will be submitted to the full Senate for confirmation. There’s still time to register your opposition. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, is circulating a number to call to connect to your senators to tell them to vote down DeVos: 1-855-882-6229. NEA also has a short email form to register your disapproval here.
DeVos is arguably Trump’s most-protested cabinet appointment. Opponents to her confirmation have jammed senators’ phone lines and flooded their offices with letters. While some Democratic senators have crossed party lines and approved Trump cabinet nominees, opposition against DeVos from Senate Democrats appears solid.
As multiple news sources report, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said every Democrat on the committee voting Tuesday, and perhaps every Democrat in the entire Senate, will vote against DeVos’s confirmation.
Seasoned education journalists at Education Week report that the odds on DeVos getting confirmed currently look favorable due to the Republican Senate majority. But they also note that Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both Republicans, may be on the fence. Both represent rural states, and, as I wrote last week, DeVos’s adamant support for the transfer of public money to private schools through school vouchers, without adequate oversight and mandated standards, could devastate rural and small-town schools. Will Republican senators representing rural constituents think twice before casting their ballots?
Further, as the EdWeek reporters note, DeVos has become “so controversial” that Democrats can take advantage of her negatives to press their case against ill-conceived education policies ideas embraced by DeVos and Trump. Ideally, that opposition will come across as united support for public schools that are truly public.