The president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is blasting Tuesday's Senate vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education, saying it is a “sad day for children."
“If she wants to work with the educators who work hard every single day—in districts as diverse as McDowell County, W.Va., Detroit, and Scarsdale, N.Y.—to provide children the opportunities they deserve, we renew our invitation to have her visit America’s public schools and see the strategies that work for kids,” Randi Weingarten said in a statement after the vote.
The Senate earlier confirmed DeVos to helm the Education Department with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence, a first for a Cabinet nominee.
Weingarten, along with other major teachers unions, has been a vocal opponent of DeVos’s nomination, arguing that she lacks public school experience. She said Tuesday that one bright spot of DeVos’s confirmation is that the public has become more vocal about education and will serve as “a check and balance."
“DeVos’ confirmation battle has a major silver lining: The public in public education has never been more visible or more vocal, and it is not going back in the shadows,” Weingarten said.
“This same public—from rural towns to urban centers, from liberals to conservatives—will now serve as a check and balance, and they will be fierce fighters on behalf of children.”
DeVos has been a lightning rod for criticism since her shaky confirmation hearing last month. The billionaire GOP donor is a longtime supporter of charter schools and school choice, and critics have sought to frame her as an opponent of public education.
Senate Democrats held an all-night talkathon leading up to Tuesday’s final floor vote and hundreds gathered in front of the Capitol Monday night to protest her nomination.
The AFT and another top education union, the National Education Association, also attended the demonstration.
Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiElle honors 10 at annual 'Women in Washington' event Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (R-Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSenate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight Overnight Finance: WH wants to slash billions | Border wall funding likely on hold | Wells Fargo to pay 0M over unauthorized accounts | Dems debate revamping consumer board Lawmakers call for pilot program to test for energy sector vulnerabilities MORE (R-Maine) were the only two Republican senators to vote against DeVos. Democrats were looking for a third Republican to join them in sinking DeVos's nomination, but no other GOP senators defected.