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Hundreds of State Legislators and Civil Rights Groups Urge Senate to Reject DeVos

'Ms. DeVos has used her vast wealth to influence state legislation and the outcomes of elections to advance policies that have undermined public education and proved harmful to many of our most vulnerable students'

Thousands of teachers, students, and parents protested against Betsy DeVos in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

Thousands of teachers, students, and parents protested against Betsy DeVos in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. (Photo: Alt Dept of ED/Twitter)

The U.S. Senate on Monday received two last-minute salvos from prominent progressive voices against Betsy DeVos's nomination for education secretary.

An open letter signed by state lawmakers from all 50 states and another signed by over 200 civil rights groups nationwide together strongly condemn DeVos's pro-privatization record and lack of experience, and urge senators to vote against the billionaire heiress.

"Ms. DeVos has used her vast wealth to influence state legislation and the outcomes of elections to advance policies that have undermined public education and proved harmful to many of our most vulnerable students; meanwhile, she lacks any direct experience with education, instruction, and school system and program administration," argues the letter from over 300 state lawmakers.

The letter from 247 civil rights groups further adds:

The Secretary of Education's role as an enforcer of education and civil rights laws is central to advancing our shared vision of an inclusive and diverse system of high-quality public education that enables every student to live up to their potential. DeVos has demonstrated no previous commitment to ensuring equal educational opportunity in schools. Moreover, in her hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on January 17, 2017, she failed to demonstrate that she is capable of and committed to enforcing the law—as is required of the agency's chief executive.

The letters arrived just under the wire, as the the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will vote on DeVos's nomination Tuesday morning. (A full senate vote will occur in several weeks.)

The letters also came after thousands of teachers, students, and parents united for a protest Sunday on Capitol Hill, in addition to smaller actions around the country (including DeVos's Michigan hometown), and demanded that senators #DumpDeVos:

Meanwhile, right-wing groups are battling for DeVos's confirmation, the Washington Post reports, with a Republican super PAC launching a pro-DeVos ad campaign Monday. 

It remains to be seen whether DeVos will be confirmed: while Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has said that no Democrats will vote for the billionaire, as Common Dreams reported, the Post observes that a Republican would have to break ranks to stop her confirmation—and thus far, no Republican senators have voiced any opposition to DeVos.

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