The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Activists To IL Senators: 'Just Vote No' Against Education Nominee Betsy DeVos

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 31, 2017 7:17PM

Betsy DeVos / Getty Images / Photo: Chip Somodevilla

On the heels of a Senate committee’s approval of controversial Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, parents of Chicago Public Schools students and community activists gathered downtown to protest the school-choice champion and urge lawmakers to vote against her as the confirmation process moves to the full Senate.

The group gathered in Federal Plaza at noon on Tuesday to deliver letters from CPS parents and a petition from the United Working Families of Illinois urging Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to vote against DeVos. "Just vote no! Just vote no!" the crowd chanted.

Duckworth on Tuesday morning announced that she would not support DeVos’ nomination due to DeVos' desire to “redirect money from public schools” and what Duckworth called a "poor understanding of civil-rights laws.”

“I am troubled by Ms. DeVos’ zealous advocacy for laws that redirect money from public schools towards private schools without adequate accountability,” Duckworth said in a statement. “Cutting resources for our public schools is not a formula for success; it robs students of their right to a quality, equitable education. I was also stunned by her apparent lack of knowledge of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—a federal law that requires schools across the nation to equitably educate students with disabilities. And I am troubled by her statement that the treatment of students with disabilities is ‘an issue that’s best left to the states,’ which makes her misunderstanding of the law’s premise clear.”

The Senate committee approved Devos 12-11 along party lines.

The nomination has come under fire from the American Federation of Teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union. Karen Lewis, president of CTU, last fall called DeVos a “nightmare” who advocates for “all the stuff that has been proven not to work." DeVos chaired a federation that championed public funding for charter schools and allocating public money for parents to spend on private education.