Education advocates: DeVos lacks public school experience

CNN — Ahead of Betsy DeVos’ hearing to become education secretary, her experience with public schools is being called into question.

“It’s totally true, she has no connection to public schools,” Randi Weingarten, president at the American Federation of Teachers, told CNN’s Carol Costello on Tuesday. “What she wants to do is actually just drain the public system of the dollars it desperately needs.”

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick did not attend public school, and neither did any of her four kids, which is concerning to some of DeVos’ critics. Weingarten, who supported Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, called her “the most anti-public education nominee who has ever been nominated for that position.”

Those feelings were echoed by Senator Elizabeth Warren in a letter.

“There is no precedent for an Education Department secretary nominee with your lack of experience in public education,” wrote Warren, who also raised concerns about DeVos’ “seemingly nonexistent record on higher education.”

However, DeVos’ experience and abilities have made strong supporters out of others.

“She is a leader, and we need transformational change,” Eva Moskowitz told CNN’s John Berman. Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, and previously served as a New York City Councilwoman. She also supported Hillary Clinton.

Moskowitz argued that many schools are unsafe, and that DeVos can help.

“I think she’s going to shake things up,” she said. “She’s going to take her passion for schooling and parent choice and make a really significant difference for the country.”

But Weingarten said there are “lots of things we can do to make sure public schools are a viable choice.” She has invited DeVos to visit the schools she is working in.

“If you are going to use the public dollar, you better make sure the choice is a good choice for parents,” she said.