WASHINGTON—Despite nationwide public outcry over the nomination of Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Senate today approved the controversial pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education. Weeks’ long resistance followed by two high-profile Republican senators who announced their opposition to DeVos almost sank her chances of becoming the next education secretary.
Educators across the nation spearheaded the opposition initially but the chorus against her nomination quickly mushroomed and took on a life of its own immediately following her confirmation hearing. NEA’s historic campaign rallied parents, students, educators, civil rights groups, and other public education advocates—both Republicans and Democrats—to email more than one million letters and make more than 80,000 phone calls to senators in Washington and flooded their offices back home. DeVos also failed to convince key Republican Senators that she was ready to do the job for which she was nominated. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) broke ranks with their own party and voted against DeVos.
The following can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
“Americans across the nation drove a bipartisan repudiation of the Trump-DeVos agenda for students and public education. Today’s outcome marks only the beginning of the resistance. Students, educators, parents, civil rights and special education advocates—along with millions of Americans—are speaking loud and clear: we are here to stay…we will protect public education.
“No other Trump cabinet nominee garnered the level of public opposition as Betsy DeVos and no other time in our nation’s history has a Vice President of the United States stepped in to cast the deciding vote on a nomination. More to the point, no nominee has united Republicans and Democrats the way DeVos has.
“The level of energy is palpable. We are going to watch what Betsy DeVos does. And we are going to hold her accountable for the actions and decisions she makes on behalf of the more than 50 million students in our nation’s public schools.
“America is speaking out. Betsy DeVos needs to listen. The hundreds of thunderous rallies, the flood of phone calls, and the deluge of millions of emails in opposition to the DeVos’ nomination deny the Trump administration a mandate to take over our public schools.
“We thank the senators—Republicans and Democrats—who said no to Betsy DeVos, and, instead, listened to the voices of students, parents, and educators. We look forward to working with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to continue to protect and strengthen our public schools and to ensure equal access to a quality public education for all students no matter their ZIP code.”