WASHINGTON DC – With the Senate on the verge of confirming Secretary of Education nominee Betsy Devos by the slimmest of margins—the deciding vote reportedly lies with Vice President Mike Pence—teachers and activists came together to try and convince just one more Republican lawmaker to switch their vote.
One of those protesters is a Maryland woman who isn’t a teacher but cares about how her family members would be impacted by having Devos in charge of education nationwide.
“I have teachers in my family so they work very hard for their students and they're very concerned about the effect that Betsy Devos would have if appointed,” said Melanie Pino. “They're concerned with her being uniformed for one thing not understanding the difference between proficiency and growth.”
Devos was criticized heavily for the answers she provided during her confirmation hearing. Devos is a proponent of charter schools and the school voucher system which leaves many educators uneasy about putting her in charge of public schools.
“I feel scared,” said Katherine Chesterson, a special education teacher in Southeast DC. “Scared that her policies are going to hurt my students-- that she is going to do to them what she did to the students of Detroit.”
Chesterson criticized the system Devos favors saying it failed students by not holding charter schools in the Motor City accountable. Chesterson said it’s one reason Detroit public school students suffer from such poor performance.
Democratic senators from Hawaii, Massachusetts and Delaware were also part of Monday’s rally in Senate Park.
“Just help me give a grade to how Betsy Devos did on her confirmation hearing,” said Senator Chris Coons, a democrat from Delaware. “Do you think she got an A? Or do you think after watching her testify she deserves and F?”
Coons said he is one of several elected leaders receiving emails and phone calls from constituents urging them to block Devos’ appointment.
“I've never seen such an unqualified nominee to serve as Secretary of Education,” said Coons.