Sen. Heidi Heitkamp: Rural students deserve better than Betsy DeVos

Although supporters of DeVos blame the opposition on Democrats and the two teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, critics come from the political spectrum. Tim Kaine, D.Va., pressed her as to whether charter, public and private schools should be held to the same accountability standards. Yet, they are becoming better known.

I'm the product of a good public school education. Pat Toomey's Philadelphia office to publicly demand he vote against Trump's pick, who has never attended or sent children to a public school. Two Republican senators - Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - have said they will vote against her, meaning the Senate is split 50-50 on her nomination if the rest of those voting do so along party lines as expected. "We believe that the public school system has largely been a cornerstone of democracy".

Presidents typically get great deference in having nominees confirmed: No presidential nominee has actually been turned back by a vote in the Senate since John Tower in 1989 and in that case it was a Senate aligned with the opposite party, not the president's.

What may seem on the surface to be merely a matter of whether the U.S. Senate confirms or rejects the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be head of the U.S. Department of Education involves far bigger stakes.

"There is a lot of overlap for school choice and religious freedom", said Neil McClusky, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, a libertarian-leaning think tank in Washington.

She is accused of "steering public dollars away from traditional public schools".

"Betsy DeVos has spent her entire career advocating for school choice including public school vouchers and charter schools".

"If teachers and students and families who will be affected by this, then we're sending another message, that we do not object", said Tilli. "DeVos is the least qualified, the most ill-prepared and the most hostile to public education of anyone who's ever had that role".

Betsy DeVos is not that secretary. "Some of them may not hear us - they oppose what we think - but they're taking note that we're calling".

Sessions is not the first Trump nominee who Donnelly has opposed. Trump threatened to withdraw federal funds from the university after the protest.

Harris invoked efforts in North Carolina like the Opportunity Scholarship, which provides up to $4,200 a year for a child to attend a private school, as ways that DeVos can promote education and force public schools to compete with charter and private schools.

In a January 24 U.S. News & World Report column, Nat Malkos writes, "DeVos' strident advocacy for choice isn't out of the mainstream, but it is unprecedented for a secretary of education".

But they said they will not be stopped. None of President Barack Obama's nominees lost a confirmation vote in the Senate. That's the antithesis of a mandate coming into office.

But he is concerned, he said, "that the wide range of opposition to Sen".

"In this last election, people were looking for something different - whatever different might be", Harris said.

"We've got to be selfish", Harris said, "because who's looking out for West Virginia if we don't?"

  • Jacqueline Ellis