From right and left and in between are coming scores of reactions to the historic Senate vote to confirm Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as education secretary, revealing the Mariana Trench-sized divide in opinion about her and the state of the debate about public education in the United States.
The Senate confirmed DeVos on Tuesday after Mike Pence became the first vice president in history to break a tie for a Cabinet nominee, a 50-50 vote among senators.
Here’s how DeVos reacted:
And here are some other reactions, pro, con and otherwise:
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a strong ally of DeVos:
I congratulate Betsy DeVos on her confirmation as our nation’s next Secretary of Education. The President made an excellent choice to lead the Department of Education. Millions of families share Secretary DeVos’s vision for disrupting a failed status quo that has denied too many children access to a quality education. It’s time to upend the entrenched special interests that put adults above genuine reforms that will raise student achievement. I hope the senators who opposed Secretary DeVos’s nomination will now put aside the tired arguments of the unions and come together to prioritize the needs of students. Under Secretary DeVos’s leadership, I am confident the federal government will loosen its grip on our education system and return power to the states and parents where it rightfully belongs.
High School Democrats of America, a progressive student group with more than 500 chapters
Today, Senate Republicans shamefully pushed through the most unqualified nominee for Education Secretary in this nation’s history. Despite Betsy DeVos’ staunch support for unregulated, for-profit charter schools, her dangerous lack of knowledge about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and her disturbing absence of experience with public schools, senators somehow found it in them to put party loyalty over country. They will pay dearly.
Bobby Jindal, former Louisiana governor whose nonprofit ran pro-DeVos television ads
I’m proud of Betsy DeVos and the Republican Senators who voted to confirm her today to be our next Secretary of Education. The union bosses in the teachers’ unions threw everything including the kitchen sink at Betsy because they understand all too well that she won’t tolerate their excuses for the failed status quo in American education. The sad truth is that far too many kids are trapped in failing public schools that are relegating them to second class status. Betsy DeVos will provide the strong leadership to break the monopoly unions hold over our K-12 schools. This is a great day for the conservative education reform movement and the parents of at-risk children who are desperately seeking better schools for their kids.
Southern Poverty Law Center Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein:
Betsy DeVos is simply not qualified to be the next education secretary. As her testimony before the U.S. Senate revealed, she lacks a basic understanding of current education concepts and policy issues. Bizarrely, she appeared to not even understand that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires public schools to accommodate children with disabilities. Throughout her career, instead of supporting public education, she has successfully advocated for the diversion of public dollars to private schools, with no accountability or oversight. She does not support accountability for charter schools that receive public funds. … As secretary of education, Mrs. DeVos would undermine public education and opportunity for our nation’s children. The Southern Poverty Law Center opposes her nomination.
Eva Moskowitz, founder and head of the no-excuses Success Academies charter school network in New York
Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as Education Secretary is a positive step forward for the millions of public school children across America who have been failed by a broken education system. Her leadership and drive will deliver meaningful reforms and start a new chapter for all children — no matter race, socioeconomic status, or zip code — to have access to high-quality schools.
Carol Burris, executive director of the nonprofit public education advocacy group Network for Public Education
Betsy DeVos put a spotlight on the ongoing threat to our democratically governed, community public schools. Public school advocates across the nation spoke out. Our campaign against DeVos generated over 600,000 emails and thousands of phone calls and letters to the Senate. Americans do not want an unregulated, privatized school system paid for by American taxpayers. They do not want public school funds taken from their neighborhood schools for profiteers, charters and vouchers. That is what DeVos represents.
Neal McCluskey, director of Center for Educational Freedom at the libertarian CATO Institute, a Washington think tank:
It is gratifying to see Betsy DeVos confirmed as the next U.S. Secretary of Education. This is not because the federal government should attempt to push school choice — it should not, except in the District of Columbia and for families connected to the military — but because the opposition to now-Secretary DeVos was so unfair to her, and to the research on educational freedom. … It is also gratifying to see DeVos approved because she stated repeatedly in her confirmation hearing that education decisions should be left to state and local governments. Constitutionally, that has things absolutely right: the Constitution gives Washington no authority to govern or “oversee” American education, as Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) put it, which means such rights remain with the states, or with the people. … Now let us hope that the Trump administration sticks to the constitutionally-constrained federal role — even on school choice — that Secretary DeVos has repeatedly endorsed.
And the satirist Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker:
(Correction: Fixing the spelling of Neal.)