With The Confirmation Of Betsy DeVos, Republicans Have Once Again Chosen Party Over Country
In what was being considered the most contentious cabinet confirmation in American history, billionaire Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education by Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote. Other than what of her taxes goes to public education, DeVos has never had any involvement with the United States public education system.
Educators, parents, concerned citizens, and students training to become teachers have been vocal in their opposition to DeVos’ nomination, calling their respective senators (over 1.5 million times) asking them to vote NO on her confirmation. Many senators have been vocal in their opposition of DeVos too. Most notably, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, assuring their constituents of their opposition to the Trump nominee.
Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lisa Collins (Maine), declined to play party politics and stood by their decision to vote against DeVos. Democrats against DeVos took to the floor, all of Monday night into Tuesday morning, in an attempt to delay the vote and hopefully swing another Republican senator in opposition of her nomination. In a 50–50 House split, Vice President Pence was called upon to cast the tie breaking vote in favor of DeVos’ confirmation.
DeVos and her family have been longtime benefactors to the GOP and causes which often receive Republican support. In her home state of Michigan, DeVos has served as the the chairman of the Republican Party and in various committees and organizations. She has worked extensively with the American Federation for Children and the Philanthropy Roundtable. She has pushed for school vouchers, allowing elementary and secondary aged students to pursue their educations at private institutions. She has advocated and worked directly for and with charter schools in Michigan, including the founding of a vocational aviation school with her husband. But of all her accomplishments as a philanthropist and businesswoman, not one have put her in a position of service to public education or public programs.
Her lack of experience in the public sector has lead many to criticize her appointment and subsequent confirmation. Speaking to her lack of experience, the answers she gave to what were simple questions were baffling to many. Her now infamous answer to the growth v. proficiency question asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) being the most striking example of her gross incompetence for the role in which she is now undertaking.
Though DeVos states on her website (pictured above) that she would rather not expound on specifics until the confirmation hearing, it is worth noting that her confirmation process did not give the best outline for what to expect from her tenure either.
What we can expect, based on the few direct answers she did give us and her general world view, is a push toward far-right, Conservative Christian values, a strong possibility of funneling public funds to private endeavors, and a corruption of Title IX rules.
In return, DeVos can expect to have her feet held to the fire by educators, parents, teachers unions, Democrats, citizens who owe student loans, and everyone who cares about the future of education in the United States.