Education

Candlelight Vigil for Public Schools Planned to Protest the Appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

A No vote for DeVos is a Yes vote for our country, our democracy and our future.

Photo Credit: Fox 10 Phoenix / YouTube

If just one more Republican senator votes against her, billionaire donor and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos could be denied a position in Trump's cabinet. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have both vowed to vote against the nominee for Education Secretary as of last week. 

Their decision marked the first time Republican senators crossed party lines to vote down any of Trump's nominees. 

"Her concentration on charter schools and vouchers... raised the question about whether or not she fully appreciates that the Secretary of Education’s primary focus must be on helping states and communities… strengthen our public schools," Collins said

"I am troubled and surprised by Mrs. DeVos’ apparent lack of familiarity with the landmark 1975 law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act," she added. 

Murkowski echoed Collins' doubts about DeVos. 

"I think that Mrs. DeVos has much to learn about our nation’s public schools, how they work and the challenges they face," Murkowski said. "I cannot support this nominee."

She also spoke to the grassroots organizing she's been bombarded by in recent weeks. 

"I have heard from thousands, truly thousands of Alaskans who have shared their concerns about Mrs. DeVos for Secretary of Education," she added. "They’re very concerned that Mrs. DeVos will force vouchers on Alaska."

But the fight's not over. The night before DeVos' confirmation hearing, protesters will participate in a candlelight vigil for public education at schools across the country on February 6.

"On social media, #StandUpForPublicSchools: Take a picture of yourself or a kid you love in front of a public school, holding a sign, or not. Share it and tag our U.S. Senators. #StopDeVos #PublicSchoolsPublicGood," instructed co-organizer Matt Gonzales, director of the School Diversity Project at New York Appleseed.

"Public schools are the bedrock of our democracy. We deserve a U.S. Secretary of Education who understands public education, who knows our schools and who believes in the public. We are the public, and these are our schools. A NO vote on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for the Secretary of Education is a YES vote for our country, our democracy, and our future," Gonzales explained. 

Additionally, a Change.org petition asking senators to vote "no" on Betsy DeVos has garnered nearly half a million signatures to date. 

Watch: Teachers Take a Stand Against DeVos by AFTHQ 

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

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