By Jonathan Moniz, Staff Writer
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was confirmed this past week in a historic tiebreaker with an even split in the Senate.
Vice President Pence had to break the tie, casting his vote in favor of the confirmation of DeVos.
It was the first time in the history of the United States that a Cabinet position had to be confirmed by the tiebreaking vote of a Vice President.
DeVos’s nomination had been the subject of much controversy within the past couple weeks, starting with her nomination from President Trump as the new Secretary of Education.
Democrats, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Civil Liberties Union chapter in Michigan had all voiced opinions against her appointment.
They cited her lack of experience within the education field and particularly the public education sector, noting how she had not even gone to public school herself, being born to a billionaire. Her own children are also not enrolled in public school, but instead private.
Then came a round of Senate hearings, in which many Democrats such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked her questions about long-standing education policy.
When asked by Senator Al Franken about whether test scores are best used to measure progression or growth, many had found her answer unsatisfactory.
Questions were brought up by several members of the Senate about previous donations to Republican campaigns, and a particular quote she had made back when she wrote an Op/Ed for The Atlantic.
“We expect a return on our investment; we expect a good and honest government,” said DeVos. “Furthermore, we expect the Republican party to use the money…to win elections.”
DeVos’s past as the largest single contributor of money to Republican campaigns has also caused consternation with many. They noted her large contributions to senators like Marco Rubio.
Over the issue of charter schools, private schools, and school vouchers specifically, there has been a significant source of debate. Noting how her proposals and programs for school vouchers in the past have not necessarily increased educational improvement and instead detracted from public funding.
DeVos had been a clear supporter of using vouchers to increase funding for public education, specifically by tailoring it to individual state and student needs.
The funding would be allocated to states from the federal government, who would then allocate it to students on a case by case basis.
The funding would then be attributed to the student and when the student makes a choice on a school, then the funding would go to that school.
Many also worry about the issue of public funding being attached to students instead of schools, making it more difficult to maintain a standard curriculum, but also more likely for less schools to receive better materials and for less funding to go to traditional public schools.
DeVos’s nomination has not made her acceptance any easier, after a visit to a Washington school she came face to face with a group of protesters. She was blocked from the front entrance by the crowd, and forced to find another entrance into the school with security.
President Trump’s Cabinet has been widely debated and controversial within the news, with DeVos being the latest pick to make headlines.
The last Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was confirmed on January 21, 2009, the day after former President Obama had taken office.
Her statement about the education system and to reform it was a way to “advance God’s kingdom.”