South Dakota Senators Vote To Confirm Trump’s Pick For Secretary Of Education

SDEA President, Sioux Falls Residents Express Their Concern About Betsy DeVos

After weeks of controversy, Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education has been confirmed. In a 50-50 tie in the U.S. Senate, Mike Pence cast the tie breaking vote Tuesday morning; the first Vice President to ever cast the deciding vote confirming a cabinet nominee.

After a 24 hour marathon session, Senate Democrats couldn’t convince enough Republicans to derail DeVos’ confirmation.

Even before the Senate voted, South Dakota Education Association President Mary McCorkle predicted that the Vice President would cast the deciding vote.

In a phone interview from Pierre McCorkle said, “Her resume does not indicate that she is highly qualified to be making the extremely important decisions for all of our public schools and especially our schools here in South Dakota.”

McCorkle says she wasn’t impressed with DeVos at Senate Confirmation hearings, where she appeared to lack knowledge of federal education laws involving students with disabilities.

McCorkle said, “We believe that she has failed to commit to protecting the rights of children including our most vulnerable students.”

Many have also been critical that the Michigan billionaire has no experience with public schools. She has never attended, volunteered, worked at or sent her children to one. However, both Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) voted in favor of her confirmation. After the vote, several people stopped by Rounds’ office to make their opposition known.

Jon Chapman of Sioux Falls said, “I believe that her special interest ties and big money connections do not have South Dakota’s children at heart, especially rural schools.”

Only two Republican Senators voted against DeVos’ nomination. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

On Tuesday afternoon Rounds issued the following statement on the confirmation of DeVos:

“I support Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education because she understands the need to keep education decisions at the local level: with parents, teachers, school boards and students. Further, I believe she will be successful in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was signed into law last Congress and repealed Common Core and other one-size-fits-all approaches, giving local units more flexibility in developing a curriculum that best fits the needs of South Dakota students. The South Dakota Department of Education and our individual school boards are more than capable of making decisions best suited for our students; they will be further empowered to do so under Ms. DeVos’s leadership.”

Also in a statement, Sen. Thune’s Communications Director Ryan Wrasse said, “Sen. Thune voted to confirm Betsy DeVos because she shares his philosophy that parents, teachers, and local school boards know their students better than Washington bureaucrats.”




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