In a recent statement, U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced his intent to vote against Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as Secretary of Education. Citing a lack of experience in and commitment to public education, Sen. Udall’s made his case to New Mexico residents as to why Mrs. DeVos should not be the Education Secretary. Much of his message focused on Mrs. DeVos’ background as a wealthy donor, using her financial influence in Republican campaigns to advance her dangerous ideologies.
Mrs. DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of Amway, and son of the company’s cofounder, Richard DeVos. All have been active in Republican politics, donating millions of dollars to presidential campaigns since 1989. Mrs. DeVos has been a strong advocate of school choice and voucher programs and heavily involved in the charter school system in and around Detroit. In the 2016 presidential campaign, she initially backed Jeb Bush and then threw her support to Marco Rubio. She was never a Trump-backer until the election came down to Trump and Clinton.
In Jan 2017, President-elect Trump nominated her for the position of Secretary of Education, a move which has been criticized by teachers unions and praised by proponents of school choice. After a contentious confirmation hearing, it became apparent that no Democrat was going to vote for her confirmation. On February 1, two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, announced they would also be opposing her confirmation. That could mean the vote could come to a 50-50 tie, requiring for the first time in history a vote by the Vice President to break the tie.
In making his case to his constituents, Sen., Udall expressed his concerns over Mrs. DeVos apparent commitment to favor charter schools over public schools, which he feels would result in a reduction of funding for public schools. Mrs. DeVos has been behind the spending of millions of dollars to promote school vouchers as a solution for a failing educational system. Yet, Sen. Udall claims the evidence clearly shows that, while voucher programs benefit middle-and upper-income families, they have not helped families with the greatest need of educational resources – specifically lower-income families and families with children with disabilities.
Sen. Udall stressed that Mrs. DeVos background and experience would not be helpful to the people of New Mexico, or any other region that faces persistent obstacles to delivering on the promise of a better education for all children, regardless of their zip code.