by Sarah Willson
Betsy DeVos took the oath of office around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2, confirming her as the next White House secretary of education.
This occurred after a Senate standoff and a historic tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence.
The 51-50 vote was established after Democrats debated through the night in hopes of persuading Republican senators to ditch their vote.
Democrats argued that they needed “Just one more!” to eliminate the Republican vote, but ultimately failed to do so.
Mike Pence called his ballot “the easiest vote I’ve ever casted.”
President Donald Trump was upset by the protests, tweeting that “it is a disgrace that my full Cabinet is still not in place, the longest such delay in the history of our country. Obstruction by Democrats!”
DeVos has been criticized by the public as being “unfit to serve” after her affirmation hearing that took place on Jan. 17. She argued that one school in Wyoming should consider bearing arms on school premises for protection from grizzly bears.
DeVos has also been denounced by educator unions for her lack of experience with public schooling. Many fear she will take public education funding and use it to build up charter schools across America.
After the vote, DeVos tweeted “I appreciate the Senate’s diligence and am honored to serve as @usedgov Secretary. Let’s improve options and outcomes for all US students.”
Democrats, including Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, were concerned about Trump’s pick, especially when it came to caring for students with disabilities.
“You put those two things together, lack of compassion for what’s happened to places like Sandy Hook and an inability to just understand the basic law around vulnerable students and it was clear at the end of that hearing that this was someone who shouldn’t be the secretary of education,” said Senator Murphy to CNN earlier on Tuesday.
One Central Connecticut State University student was also concerned with Trump’s pick. Andrea Sanchez, a sophomore majoring in International Studies, questions if DeVos will be a good pick because of her lack of experience regarding public education.
“She has no prior experience in any public administration,” said Sanchez. “She never even went through any public school systems. I don’t see how she’s at all qualified. [DeVos is] someone who has no idea what people go through to get a public education. Not knowing anything about it herself isn’t giving her anything to work with.”
More than anything, Sanchez says she’s most concerned with the future of public schools and worries that all of DeVos’s energy will be poured into helping charter schools, which receive private funding from tax dollars.
While Sanchez agrees that not all charter schools are harmful, she believes that they are not ultimately what’s best for everyone.
Sanchez also addressed the issue of whether firearms should be allowed in schools.
When asked about DeVos’s plan to allow guns at a Wyoming school for use as protection from grizzly bears, Sanchez called it “a little extreme,” believing that carrying a firearm on school premises “poses a certain danger to everyone.”
In the meantime, DeVos currently has no formal plans to promote firearms on school grounds and plans to visit public schools starting Feb. 10.