One of the most contentious picks for President Donald Trump's cabinet is his Secretary of Education choice, Betsy Devos. The prominent Michigan Republican billionaire has a history of supporting charter schools and school choice, chaired the American Federation for Children and was condemned by the largest labor union in the U.S., the National Education Association.
Her support for school choice, which permits low-income families to use public funds to finance for private or charter schools, is one of the biggest issues fueling the opposition against her confirmation. Teacher unions have not typically supported school choice because they argue that it is against public school education.
With her Senate committee vote rescheduled for Jan. 31, several senators have released statements voicing their opposition and plans to vote "no" to DeVos' nomination. Here is a list of the senators so far who said they will not be voting for DeVos:
Bernie Sanders, I-V.T.
The Vermont senator tweeted Thursday afternoon that he will not be voting for DeVos, adding: “We must strengthen public education in America, not destroy it.”
Sen. Angus King, I-M.E.
King said in an interview Tuesday with the Portland Press Herald that DeVos’s lack of support for public schools spearheaded his decision to oppose the nominee. “To say she’s a proponent of school choice is an understatement. Her whole career has been school choice to the exclusion of the basic public education system, and I am just such a firm believer in public education that I can’t go that far," he said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Schumer announced Thursday he will vote “no” to DeVos as the education secretary, emphasizing that she would “single-handedly decimate our public education system if she were confirmed." “Her plan to privatize education would deprive students from a good public education, while helping students from wealthy families get another leg up,” Schumer said.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-M.I.
The Michigan senator said that after having a conversation with DeVos, she would not be voting for the nominee. “Our conversation reaffirmed my strong concerns about her nomination. Betsy DeVos and her family have a long record of pushing policies that I believe have seriously undermined public education in Michigan and failed our children. Therefore, I cannot support (her),” Stabenow said.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
The New Jersey senator voiced his opinion about DeVos in a news release, citing “serious concerns” about her role as leader of the Education Department. “I have long-supported targeted, accountable school choice initiatives to help ensure that poor children in chronically failing schools have the opportunity to receive a quality public education. But there are a number of departures between Mrs. DeVos policy beliefs and mine that prevent me from supporting her,” Booker said in the statement.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.
In a news release Tuesday, Menendez announced his opposition to Devos in a conference call with New Jersey teachers and school administrators. “We should not entrust the future of our children to someone who has never participated in our public education system - either as a student, parent, administrator, or educator - and fundamentally misunderstands vital pieces of federal legislation like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),” Menendez said.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Gillibrand added her formal announcement to the count of senators opposing DeVos when she said that she will be voting “no,” adding that DeVos does not share the senator’s commitment to a “strong public education system.” “I will be voting against her confirmation and I will urge my fellow Senators to do the same. Students, parents and teachers deserve an Education Secretary whose commitment to public education and safe schools will not waver," she said.
Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-I.N.
Donnelley said Wednesday that after reviewing DeVos’s record, qualifications and her confirmation hearing, he will not be voting for her as the Secretary of Education. “I am concerned she will not prioritize efforts that are important to Hoosier families, like: expanding access to early childhood education, improving our public schools, and empowering student borrowers and reducing federal student loan debt," Donnelly said.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-W.I.
The Wisconsin senator said that all students should have access to education and therefore she will not vote for DeVos. “It is very important to me that our next secretary of education respects this tradition and is committed to it, but after meeting with Betsy DeVos, and participating in the hearing as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, I don’t believe she does,” Baldwin said in a statement.
Sen. Gary Peters, D-M.I.
Peters criticized DeVos’ resume during a Tuesday floor speech, adding that he will not support her nomination. “Mrs. DeVos’ resume contains no experience in public education at any level – not as a teacher, not as an administrator, not as a student or parent, not as a school board member and not even as a borrower of public loans for college,” Peters said.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-V.A.
The former 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee joined the growing count of senators who said they would vote “no” for DeVos. “Mrs. DeVos has said that public schools are a ‘dead end’ and that ‘government really sucks’ when it comes to education. This statement betrays the commitment of thousands of public school teachers who work hard every day in our public schools, many in tough working conditions, to ensure our children are educated," Kaine said.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-C.T.
Murphy, like Sanders, announced his opposition in a tweet Thursday morning. "Guns in classrooms? Elementary schools run for profit? No thanks. I will vote NO on Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education,” the Connecticut senator tweeted.