For Florida’s Future to Senator Rubio: Don’t Fail Our Kids, Don’t Be The Deciding Vote for Trump’s Woefully Unfit Choice for U.S. Education Secretary

February 3, 2017
Billionaire Republican-Mega Donor Betsy DeVos Has No Experience in Public Education, Only a Passion for Privatizing and Defunding It
Rubio Should Join His Fellow GOP Senators Collins, Murkowski, and #DumpDeVos
Tampa, FL – For Florida’s Future is urging Senator Marco Rubio to listen to the “onslaught of pressure” from constituents jamming his phone lines and demanding he vote against Betsy DeVos, the most anti-public education nominee for Education Secretary in the department’s history. DeVos’ total lack experience in public education, and her history of undermining it, were put on troubling display during her disastrous confirmation hearing. And yet, Senator Rubio is poised to cast the deciding vote to confirm her.
During the hearing, DeVos drew a blank when asked about a key federal law that protects students with disabilities from discrimination. Then she testified that she would be OK with guns in schools in case a grizzly bear showed up, because what could go wrong with having guns in the same building as curious and resourceful children?  And as reported by the Washington Post, DeVos refused to agree “that all schools that receive public federal funds — traditional public, public charter or private schools that receive voucher money — should be held to the same standards of accountability.” And yet, Senator Rubio is ready to rubberstamp Trump’s flawed nomination.

Blake Williams, Communications Director, For Florida’s Future: “Marco Rubio should join his fellow Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins in acknowledging that no amount of cramming will make Betsy DeVos qualified to be the nation’s top educator. Rubio seems to think that the tens of thousands in campaign donations DeVos has given to him is the only qualification she needs to receive his support. He’s wrong. If DeVos wasn’t willing to do her homework before her job interview, resulting in muddled answers to even basic questions about education policy, how can Senator Rubio expect her to be a competent advocate for our students?  If Senator Rubio casts the deciding vote in favor of DeVos, it will not be soon forgotten how he cheated Florida children out of equal educational opportunity.”

The concerns go beyond DeVos’ inexperience and lack of training in public education. She is also a longtime advocate for privatizing, defunding and dismantling our nation’s public education system.  As the New York Times reported: “It is hard to find anyone more passionate about the idea of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools than [her].”
Indeed, the billionaire right-wing activist spent millions of dollars lobbying to let corporations take control of children’s education. DeVos is a big fan of failed privatization schemes including private school vouchers and unaccountable for-profit charter schools that drain taxpayer money from public schools without demonstrating improvement in student performance. Nowhere has the so-called “school choice” experiment failed more than in DeVos’ home state of Michigan where most the corporate charter schools have performed worse than the state average. When DeVos wasn’t busy attacking public schools and deriding the teaching profession as “self-serving”, she was promoting anti-LBGT causes including so-called “conversion therapy”. Senator Rubio, who used the Pulse nightclub shooting as cause to run for reelection, should explain how he can stand by and support that.
“One of the core missions of the Education Department is ensuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual. The Trump-DeVos privatization policies would fail that test miserably” said Williams. “DeVos might have been an ideal candidate to run thefraudulent Trump University, but she has no business leading the U.S. Education Department.”

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