Betsy DeVos Confirmed, Mike Pence Breaks Tie

Doug+Mills+%2F+The+New+York+Times

Doug Mills / The New York Times

Todd Potter, Staff Writer

 

   On Tuesday February 7, Vice President Mike Pence became the first vice president to break a tie on a Cabinet nomination, electing  Betsy DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor with almost no experience in public education as the new United States’ Education Secretary.

  This decision was the closest of all of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominations.  Many Democrats in the Senate tried to convince Republicans to oppose Trump’s nomination, encouraged by the support of Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.  However, in the end, this attempt was unsuccessful due to Pence’s decision.   

  “My vote for Betsy DeVos was the easiest vote I ever cast,” remarked Mike Pence before he sworn her into office on Tuesday night.

  DeVos’ nomination was controversial because her support of charter schools and vouchers allowing students to pay the tuition at private, religious, for-profit schools using taxpayer dollars. This led educators to believe she was not dedicated to the public school system.  In fact, DeVos and her children have all attended private schools.

  Alanna Tran (11) stated, “She has no experience running a loan program… I really don’t understand why there was even a fifty-fifty tie.  I thought it was pretty clear that she was unqualified.”

  On the other hand, Republicans argued that DeVos is committed to looking out for the best interests of the children and has helped reform public schools effectively over the last few years.  Ultimately, the Republicans in the Senate prevailed in electing her.   

  Believing that her donations to the Republican Party may have influenced the nomination and vote, Trevor Kuttler (11) said, I think money talks… [and] everyone has a price.  [DeVos]’s been approved and that’s the end of that. Only time will tell if she fills the position well.”

  Now that DeVos is the Education Secretary, she will have to address the Every Student Succeeds Act, rising tuition costs, student debt, for-profit colleges, freedom of speech on campuses, as well as Trump’s proposal to devote $20 billion of public funds to school vouchers.  Her decisions and the public’s response to them will shape the future of education in America.