On Tuesday, February 7, Betsy DeVos was appointed as Secretary of Education by a 51-50 vote in the Senate.
The vote was originally a tie, so Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as President of the Senate and has a vote in addition to the 100 apportioned to the states, was summoned and cast a tie-breaking vote that allowed for DeVos’s nomination.
Controversy surrounded DeVos’s appointment, those in opposition arguing that she had no experience in the field and was unqualified for the job. Supporters maintained that DeVos would be a force against stagnation.
Detractors of DeVos maintained that she was another white billionaire that the Trump administration nominated to a cabinet position as a reward for support on the campaign trail.
Furthermore, DeVos has no experience with public schools, wants to cut federal funding for them, and wants to use taxpayer dollars to send children to for-profit schools. She also has advocated for guns in school, saying that it would protect students from threats.
“Make no mistake: A vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education is a vote to end public education in this country as we know it,” a Free Press editorial read.
The myriad of statements that DeVos has made already, specifically in her confirmation hearing, has many worried for the future state of public schools in America and how that will affect students in years to come.
“DeVos shows an antipathy for public schools, a full-throttled embrace of private, for-profit alternatives, and a lack of basic understanding of what children need to succeed in school,” said Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers.
“It’s not a job for amateurs who don’t know the first thing about education,” said Senator Al Franken (D-MN).
For the past few decades, DeVos has worked as an advocate for public school alternatives, even helping families pay for private and parochial schools. Unfortunately, the results from the charter schools she helped fund have produced poor results, being well below the national average.
For some, like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), they have praised DeVos’s work, saying that she has given “low-income children the same [educational] choices wealthier families have.”
Going forward, many Republican leaders have great confidence in DeVos.
“I have every confidence that Mrs. DeVos will lead the Department of Education in such a way as to put our students first,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said.
“Countless students have benefited from her efforts to promote an educational marketplace defined by innovation, opportunity, and real, meaningful choice,” said Vice President Mike Pence.
Now that DeVos has been appointed, she will have about 4,500 employees and a budget of $70 billion to dole out to states that need federal assistance and enforce federal educational laws. Based on her ideas thus far, America’s public education system will receive less funding, with the money going instead towards the creation of more private and charter schools.
Whatever the outcome, millions of children will be affected by her policies, determining what type of education they receive.