by Félix Pérez
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee voted this morning, 12-11, to advance Betsy DeVos’s nomination for secretary of education to the full Senate. But gauging by the unprecedented public opposition to her nomination — more than 1 million emails and 50,000 phone calls to Senators, as well as protests across the nation — the fight is far from over.
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“The level of engagement from parents, students, and educators — from both political parties — across the country in opposition to Betsy DeVos’s nomination and agenda has been nothing short of astounding. This is a clear signal that a dangerously unqualified nominee has failed to convince the American people that she is capable of doing the job for which Donald Trump nominated her,” said Utah elementary school teacher and National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García.
“We thank the many senators who already have committed to vote no on Betsy DeVos. We also appreciate the thoughtful comments and continued questions raised in committee today by Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, who announced they have not decided how they will vote on the Senate floor,” added Eskelsen García. “This is good news. It means that they’re listening. We urge them and others to continue to listen to the voices of educators and parents back home before that vote.”
DeVos, a billionaire political donor and decades-long advocate and funder of school privatization efforts, stumbled several times and failed to show a grasp of basic education issues in her hearing earlier this month. She admitted to being “confused” about the federal law for students with disabilities. She was unable to distinguish between student growth and student proficiency. She would not commit to enforcing the rights of students with disabilities in voucher and charter schools. And she would not pledge not to cut public school funding in order to fund vouchers.
DeVos’s confirmation by the Senate is uncertain
“Do note, she has not yet earned my full support… I would not advise yet that she count on my vote,” said Murkowski
The Senate has not yet set a vote date.