Unqualified billionaire Betsy DeVos is one step closer to becoming our next Education Secretary.
In one of the most embarrassing displays of subservience, once-respected Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) pushed the nomination through committee this afternoon despite numerous objections from Democrats.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted along party lines 12-11 to bring DeVos before the full Senate. A final vote has not yet been scheduled.
DeVos has next to zero experience with public schools. She never attended one. Her children never attended one. She never taught in one. Nor does she even have a degree in education.
Her entire experience is bribing policymakers to enact Common Core, push school choice measures and reduce transparency at charter schools – measures that have gutted public schools in her home state of Michigan.
At her confirmation hearing two weeks ago, DeVos’ ignorance of even the most basic education knowledge was laughably on display.
She wouldn’t commit to protecting students with special needs.
She wouldn’t commit to keeping guns out of school campuses.
She wouldn’t commit to holding charter and voucher schools to the same standards as traditional public schools.
She didn’t know the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was a federal law.
And she couldn’t explain the difference between proficiency and growth, two of the most common academic terms.
DeVos entire qualifications are that, along with her family, she has donated around $200 million to mostly Republican lawmakers.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) – $70,200
Sen. Tim Scott (R–SC) – $49,200
Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) – $48,600
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) – $43,200
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – $43,200
Senators have been bombarded by calls from constituents not to confirm DeVos, but greenbacks apparently talk much louder than our fragile excuse-for-a-Democracy.
Sen. Susan Collins, (R-ME) and Sen. Murkowski said they were approving DeVos out of deference to Donald Trump. In effect, the President can nominate whomever he likes, and the Senate should vote on it.
Both Collins and Murkowski said they’re still concerned about DeVos’ seeming lack of commitment to enforce laws protecting disabled students and other policies.
“I would advise she not yet count on my vote,” Murkowski said.
The Senate, just like the HELP Committee, is controlled by Republicans. DeVos is only another party line vote away from becoming Secretary of Education.
It is a position that she has apparently already bought and paid for.
Along with her deep ignorance and antipathy toward public schools, Democrats object to DeVos’ financial entanglements. She has already agreed to divest herself from more than 100 investments at the urging of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics. However, it is difficult to gauge how deeply she is committed to enterprises that could benefit her financially through her position, if confirmed. It is hard to imagine any other candidate for the position with as many ties to for-profit enterprises potentially biasing decisions that should be made for the benefit of the nation’s children and not personal gain.
Meanwhile, the ranking Democrat in the HELP committee, Sen. Patty Murray, (D-WA), claims that DeVos may have plagiarized her written answers to questions asked by her committee.
DeVos seems to have nearly quoted a Justice Department press release, a magazine article, federal statutes, and Education Department materials without attribution, seemingly passing them off as her own responses, Murray said.
These are mistakes that would earn a public school student a failing grade. Apparently standards are much lower for government office.
Teachers must have advanced degrees just to preside over a classroom. DeVos will be presiding over the nations schools.
It is next to impossible to claim that her nomination is moving forward based on merit.
Our children will be left vulnerable to the whims of a woman who has no idea what she’s doing and has demonstrated a desire to destroy their schools.
If Republicans (and Democrats) have any spine at all, the time has come to show it. Or else just take your dirty money and shut up.