Our work to let the American people know who Betsy DeVos is—the most unqualified nominee for secretary of education in our lifetime—has taken off like wildfire. She has dropped to what some consider the most vulnerable of Trump’s billionaire club of Cabinet nominees. But presidential Cabinet nominees are rarely rejected, and we know we have a steep hill to climb.
We need to keep the pressure up.
In her one and only confirmation hearing last week, DeVos proved incapable of answering even some basic questions about federal education programs. Even putting aside ridiculous answers like her claim that schools need guns to protect kids from grizzly bears, she did nothing to prove her fitness for the job. In addition, serious questions linger about her finances and possible conflicts of interest with programs the department regulates.
Besides becoming fodder for late-night talk show humor, DeVos was also the subject of a surprisingly large number of handmade signs at Saturday’s women’s marches around the country. Of all of President Trump’s nominations, hers is probably the one that has been the rockiest—and a lot of that is thanks to AFT members and our allies spreading the word about who the real Betsy DeVos is.
Before the Senate committee vote on DeVos next week, we have several action opportunities for you and your members:
- State legislators affiliated with the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have written a letter in support of DeVos. Unlike ALEC’s out-of-touch views, the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) and Local Progress have crafted letters that express the real sentiments of educators, parents and our communities about the importance of public schools and why Betsy DeVos should be rejected. The SiX letter is aimed at progressive state legislators and urges them to sign on. If you know legislators who might want to sign, contact Ed Muir (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Local Progress letter is for municipal officials and other progressive allies to sign. Share it with them here.
- Ask your members to send a letter opposing DeVos to their senators. AFT members have already sent more than 125,000 emails to senators. The more we send, the stronger the message.
- We are also collecting postcards to send to senators. You can print a postcard and get other information from the AFT All In site.
A growing number of senators are saying they won’t vote to confirm DeVos; this Medium post has a list of 27 senators so far, with more being added daily, along with comments from many of them and links to their websites where you can thank them. But we still have a big uphill fight to derail this horrible pick for education secretary, and we will keep fighting until the last vote is cast on the Senate floor. Thanks for your continued activism.