FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Education with a 50-50 tie in the Senate. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie breaking vote.
Public school advocates hopes DeVos, a school choice advocate, will allow them a seat at the table when it comes to the future of education. Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick is ensuring they will have a seat. In a statement after Tuesday afternoon’s vote McCormick said:
“The Indiana Department of Education is focused on and committed to serving our students and supporting school staff. From the beginning, we made it clear our commitment to success will hinge on the local and national partnerships we create. We therefore welcome the new U.S. Secretary of Education to the table as we ensure Indiana’s voice is heard at the federal level. Our state, our students and our educators will be represented well.”
Gov. Eric Holcomb released this statement:“Betsy DeVos has long been a dedicated champion of student achievement. I’m delighted with her confirmation and look forward to partnering with her and Superintendent McCormick as we all seek to ensure every Hoosier student is equipped with a great education that ultimately leads to a rewarding career.”
Since the Michigan billionaire’s nomination, public school advocates have criticized her lack of experience.
“She herself was not a public school student, she didn’t send her students to public schools, she is not educated in education in anyway,” Fort Wayne Education Association Julie Hyndman said.
Hyndman worries about DeVos’ advocacy for school choice and charter schools.
“We want to make sure those public dollars are not all given away to private interests,” Hyland said. “It appears she may have some private interests with all her campaign contributions.”
The Indiana Charter School Board had no comment about the confirmation. In an email, a spokesperson said:
“We are hesitant to comment on any potential impact of her confirmation as we are waiting to see how those plans and regulations will affect charter schools.”
NewsChannel 15 reached out to several charter schools in the area. The President of American Quality Schools, the company running Fort Wayne’s Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy did return our call. Michael Bakalis said DeVos is “the least qualified” Secretary of Education ever. He said he supports school choice like DeVos, but added supporting charter schools is “not enough” to head the Department of Education.