Tester Stands with Montana, Opposes Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary

Senator: We Cannot Privatize our Public Education System

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today stood with thousands of Montana parents, teachers, and students by opposing President Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Tester, a former public school teacher and school board member, cited DeVos’ support for privatization of public schools, lack of public education experience, and an outpouring of opposition from Montanans among his reasons to oppose her nomination.

“Our public education system isâ??-—and this can’t be arguedâ??—the foundation of our democracy,” Tester recently told his Senate colleagues. “We’ve had a democracy in this country for nearly 250 years because of the success of our public education system. What is troubling about the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is that she wants to privatize this public education system we have. If we do that, we will destroy the foundation of this country, and we will destroyâ??—it may take a few yearsâ??-â??but we will destroy our democracy.”

More than 8,500 Montanans contacted Tester opposing Mrs. DeVos’ nomination.

Tester took to the Senate floor to give a voice to those Montanans, reading aloud letters and emails from concerned Montanans and entering them into the Congressional Record.

“A vote for Betsy is a vote for private control,” Jenessa from Froid wrote. “A vote for Betsy is a vote against the community of Froid. A vote for Betsy is a vote against Froid Public School. A vote for Betsy is a vote against public school teachers across this country and across this great state you represent. A vote for Betsy is a vote against my family. And a vote for Betsy is a vote against me.”

“As a 32-year veteran educator in a rural public school, I am deeply concerned about the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary,” Mary from Red Lodge wrote. “I’m inclined to say that her loyalty and financial backing of Mr. Trump were the reasons for her misguided appointment and not her experience and knowledge in education issues. To be in such an esteemed position as Education Secretary, one would expect years of experience and an advanced degree to understand the ongoing issues we face in U.S. education.”

“As a first grade teacher in a low-income school, I believe wholeheartedly in Montana’s public schools,” Sara from Billings wrote. “Betsy DeVos believes in school privatization and vouchers. She has worked to undermine efforts to regulate Michigan charters, even when they clearly fail. The marketplace solution of DeVos will destroy our democratically governed community schools. Her hostility towards public schools disqualifies her. She will not work to provide a free and fair education to my students who struggle daily with hunger, homelessness, and more. I am asking you to vote against the confirmation of Betsy DeVos.”

Folks from across Montana’s education community also praised Tester.

“Betsy DeVos doesn’t have even a rudimentary understanding of public schools in America. She knows nothing about IDEA. She does not know the difference between student progress and student proficiency. She has never suffered suffocating debt to get through higher education. And she is a charter school zealot who would add nothing of educational value to our state but seriously compromise how we the people govern and pay for the quality public schools we already have. We are darned lucky Jon Tester is our senator. Unlike Betsy DeVos Jon knows how we live, work, and educate kids in Montana.” – Eric Feaver, President of MEA-MFT

“School Administrators of Montana’s (SAM’s) core purpose is Visionary leaders united in providing, advocating, and creating education excellence for Montana students! The Secretary of Education is our nations’ representative and advocate for every public school child’s education all across the United States. A review of the responses to questions of Ms. DeVos during the confirmation hearings reveals that she lacks a commitment to accountability and transparency that is the hallmark of the work in our Montana rural schools; and that she portrays an agenda contrary to the vision for creating excellence for Montana students. For these reasons, SAM is thankful for the vote of Senator Tester against the confirmation of Ms. DeVos as the representative of Montana’s (and the nation’s) public school children. Our nation deserves a secretary of education who clearly understands the needs and the challenges of our public schools and will work tirelessly to encourage, promote and engage all powers that be to support the nation’s public school children.” – Kirk Miller, Executive Director of School Administrators of Montana

“Our public schools, with a proud history, deserve someone who knows and understands the success of our small, rural schools. Mrs. DeVos support for vouchers and charter schools demonstrates that she is not that individual. Our small frontier schools are already innovative and ahead of the curve regarding academic measures of success. For these and other reasons, the Montana Small Schools Alliance cannot support Mrs. Betsy DeVos for United States Secretary of Education.” – Dan Rask, Executive Director of Montana Small Schools Alliance.

DeVos was confirmed on a partisan vote of 51-50-Vice President Mike Pence was needed to break the tie in order to confirm the nominee.