The Senate has confirmed school choice activist Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a tie-breaking vote, the first time that has been necessary for a cabinet nomination.
Colorado’s senators voted down party lines.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet spoke on the Senate floor Monday night, as part of an overnight show of opposition to DeVos’ confirmation.
"I have no doubt that Betsy DeVos sincerely cares about children, and it is not her fault that President Trump nominated her,” he said. “So, let me be clear, I am addressing the president and not Mrs. DeVos when I say this nomination is an insult to school children and their families, to teachers and principals, and to communities fighting to improve their public schools."
“Her ideology and dogmatic approach communicates a lack of understanding and appreciation of the challenges we face and the depths of solution they demand,” Bennet continued.
Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner released a video message from his office. He, along with all but two Senate Republicans, voted for DeVos’ confirmation.
“When I had the opportunity to meet Betsy DeVos personally, she pledged to me that she would be an advocate for public schools, teachers and educational opportunities for all,” Gardner said.
“As someone who believes education decisions should be left to parents and their children with policies driven locally, Congress will hold her accountable, and I will work to ensure that she lives up to the commitment that she made to me,” Gardner continued.
Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lis Murkowski of Alaska broke with their party to vote against the confirmation, after expressing fears that DeVos’ focus on charter schools will undermine remote public schools in their states.
DeVos is a wealthy Republican Party donor who has devoted herself to boosting alternatives to public education, sparking concerns among educators that she won't be a strong champion for the nation's public school systems.
According to NPR, the federal role in education policy is limited. Less than 10 percent of funding for K-12 schools comes from the feds. That being said, here are the federal education issues that NPR will be following.