Students and teachers in Colorado are concerned with Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as secretary of education. Although
the Colorado state legislature has more influence over Colorado’s schools than DeVos may have, she does have the power to push her policies.
“DeVos’ policies will affect my school along with other public schools because her policies devalue the institution of the public school system. is means teachers and the students we serve are also devalued,” said Meg Zimmerman, a teacher from the Denver Center for International Studies.
Many Colorado teachers are nervous that the accountability of the public school system to provide every child with a fair education could be jeopardized. DeVos’ policies on school choice and charter schools could have the potential to take money away from public schools, and “by funneling money into schools without accountability, accommodations for disabled and trans students will no longer be the law,” Zimmerman said. Students that come from already disadvantaged neighborhoods or backgrounds could face even more severe consequences than those who don’t.
The Senate’s confirmation of DeVos as secretary of education on Feb. 7 was highly contentious because of her prior campaign funding of the same senators responsible for her approval.
According to the Washington Post, “DeVos has lobbied for decades to expand charter schools and taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools.” These policies concerned Democrats and school teachers throughout the nation and sparked statements from education, civil rights, disability and community organizations such as the National Parent Teacher Association and the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a press release that “DeVos is the most ideological, anti-public Education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education.”
Sonny Zwierkowski, a teacher at Compass Montessori School, said that although he agrees with a voucher program for charter schools, the proposed system under DeVos “seems to be a convenient way of expanding her religious beliefs and keeping the rich richer.” The potential for DeVos to push a single religion through education could have devastating long-term effects for those who fall outside of the belief system Zwierkowski said.
Aside from two Republican senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, senators voted down the party line. Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a historic tiebreaker vote, a move that marked
the rst time such a vote was needed to con rm a cabinet secretary.