The U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary on Tuesday afternoon in a split vote that required Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking ballot—the first time in American history a vice president has resolved a cabinet confirmation tie. The historic vote comes in the wake of Senate democrats' staging a 24-hour protest on the floor of the U.S. Senate, where they delivered speech after speech slamming Trump's pick to lead the department of education.
DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist and Republican mega-donor, is a staunch supporter of school choice, meaning the government gives parents and guardians money in the form of vouchers so they can send their children to a school of their choosing (public, private, charter). Opponents insist a voucher system would gut the public school system—where the vast majority of Americans send their children—and revive systemic segregation.
She also showed a lack of knowledge on basic tenants of the education system, including the federal law to help students with disabilities and how to measure a student's performance.
The Senate's vote on Tuesday—in which two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Markowski of Alaska, crossed the aisle to vote against DeVos—marks the seventh of 22 Trump cabinet officials confirmed so far.
Here are 10 of the most powerful lines from Senate democrats' #holdthefloor protest:
"This whole process stinks. At every step along the way, Republicans have made it clear no matter her inexperience, no matter her radical views, no matter her potential conflicts of interest, no matter her secrecy, no matter her blowing off basic anti-corruption practices, they will ram this nomination down the throats of the American people sideways."
"She is the least qualified nominee in a historically unqualified cabinet."
"She doesn't cherish public education, she doesn't value it, she is someone who has dedicated her career and her inherited fortune to privatizing public schools, to tearing down public education, to defunding it in order ot push more taxpayer dollars into private schools and for-profit charters."
"During her hearing, Ms. DeVos proved beyond a shadow of a doubt not only that her ideology is fundamentally incompatible with the mission of the Department of Education, but that she is fundamentally incompetent to be its leader … This is not a job for amateurs."
"It is difficult to imagine a worse choice to head the department of education—Betsy DeVos doesn't believe in public schools, her only knowledge of student loans seems to come from her own financial investments connected to debt collectors who hound people struggling with student loans and despite being a billionaire she wants the chance to keep making money off shady investments while she runs the department of education."
"The more the American people learn about the record of Betsy DeVos the more concerned they become. The American people are making their voices heard in every Senate office, the switchboard has been essentially shut down, and I can tell you that I've received over 14,000 calls from Maryland alone."
"In the very little time she was allowed to be shown to the public she showed … that she does not have the qualifications to uphold the department of educations primary goal—to ensure that all students, all students, not just the wealthy, but all students have access to quality public education that allows them to succeed."
"I believe [DeVos's confirmation hearing] may have been one the most embarrassing performances by a nominee in the history of the United States Senate. We would not accept a secretary of defense who couldn't name the branches of the military. We wouldn't accept a secretary of state who couldn't identify Europe on a map."
"One in five women on college campuses experience attempted or completed sexual assaults. One in five. Now that's an abomination. That's a stain on our country. That's something we should not allow to continue, and we're just beginning in the last couple of years to begin to tackle that horrific problem, that insult, that outrage to young women and their families all across the country … I asked [DeVos] to uphold the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights guidance from 2011 that advises institutions of higher education to use the preponderance of evidence standard for campus conduct proceedings. Some people know the difference between one level of evidentiary standards versus others. They made a determination that preponderance of the evidence was the right standard. I asked her a very specific question whether or not she would uphold that standard of evidentiary—that basic evidentiary standard, and she said it was—quote—premature to make such a commitment. I also asked her whether she would enforce the law as it relates to sexual assault, and she didn't seem to believe that she had to answer that question in a manner that would give us confidence that she would uphold the law."
"A 2014 investigation by the Detroit Free Press suggests their profits are enormous. During the 2013 school year, the paper found Detroit public schools spend an average of $12,000 per student in the classroom. Charter schools spent about $2,000 less per pupil, getting the same amount of money. They are spending $2,000 less per kid, yet spent double that rate on per-pupil funding on administrative costs. That's their skim. That's their profit."
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