Betsy DeVos, Michigan billionaire, is set to become the next Secretary of Education, despite strong opposition from the American people.
At the strange hour of 6:30 a.m. this past Friday the Senate met to vote on the DeVos nomination. The vote was split down the middle at 52-48 with the majority of members voting with their respective party.
Since President Donald Trump’s nomination of DeVos in November, tension rose among several concerned teachers, parents and students. Many see DeVos’ nomination as a direct attack on the public education system.
The nominee does not hold an education degree but rather a degree in business administration and political science. Neither DeVos nor her children have attended public school on the k-12 or postsecondary level.
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, released a public statement upon the announcement of DeVos’ nomination, “DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools. The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation.”
On Jan. 17, DeVos appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at her confirmation hearing for the Secretary of Education. Several issues regarding her lack of experience in the public school system, her foggy stance on allowing guns at schools and her donations to the Republican Party arose.
The Education Secretary is in charge of managing $150,000 in financial aid, distributing $30,000 in Pell-grants, and controlling a trillion dollar bank. When Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, questioned Trump’s education pick on her knowledge of running a national bank, the Michigan native admitted to having no prior experience with such matters.
The liberal Senators are not the only politicians weary of DeVos’ nomination. Republican Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, both strongly oppose DeVos. Murkowski received thousands of calls from Alaskan activists pleading with her to not throw her weight behind the billionaire campaign donor.
DeVos is a strong believer in replacing “failing” public schools with charter academies. This particular stance worries many native Alaskans who see the billionaire’s position on charter schools as a threat to rural areas in the state.
Sen. Collins’ greatest concern is the nominee’s inexperience with the federal laws set in place to protect children with special needs and disabilities. She believes that the secretary of education’s primary focus should surround bettering education by helping states and communities thrive at the public school level.
“I will not, I cannot, vote to confirm her as our nation’s next secretary of education,” said Collins.
The final vote is to take place Feb. 6. Vice President Mike Pence will cast his tie breaking vote and the final count is expected to be 50-50, in favor of DeVos.