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New Yorkers celebrate, mourn and buckle down as Betsy DeVos is confirmed as U.S. education secretary

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
YouTube / American Federation for Children

The rancorous debate over Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s pick for education secretary, reached a final crescendo Tuesday afternoon when her confirmation came down to an unprecedented tie, broken in her favor by Vice President Mike Pence.

Here’s how the New York education world responded:

Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy charter school network

“Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as education secretary is a positive step forward for the millions of public school children across America who have been failed by a broken education system. Her leadership and drive will deliver meaningful reforms and start a new chapter for all children — no matter race, socioeconomic status, or zip code — to have access to high-quality schools.”

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers

“This process made clear to parents and teachers across the country what billionaire Betsy DeVos is all about. She has contempt for public education and wants to dismantle neighborhood public schools. We know the DeVos playbook. Now we have to stand together and work to protect what we value — our public schools.”

John King, former U.S. Secretary of Education and New York state education commissioner; incoming head of the Education Trust

“During the confirmation process, I was encouraged by the large numbers of students, parents, educators, community leaders, and civil rights advocates insisting that the federal role in education must be to strengthen public education — not abandon it — and to protect students’ civil rights. Indeed, Americans clearly care deeply about education and have real concerns about who will lead the nation’s education department.

“As the former Secretary of Education, I sincerely hope that Ms. DeVos will work hard to prove these concerns wrong and will lead the Department in a manner that protects fundamental civil rights and promotes opportunity and achievement for all students. And the Ed Trust will do what advocates for the nation’s most vulnerable children always do: work with and support her wherever we can find common cause, and vigorously oppose any action that would undermine continued progress for the children on whose behalf we work every day.”

Evan Stone, co-founder and co-CEO of Educators for Excellence, a teacher advocacy group

“We hope [DeVos] will make every effort to listen to the voices of classroom teachers, not only because of her own lack of experience in the classroom, but also because it is these educators who will ultimately be tasked with implementing the policies she will now be overseeing. Their support will be instrumental to improving the quality and equity of our education system.”

Kesi Foster of the Urban Youth Collaborative and Natasha Capers of New York City Coalition for Educational Justice

“Our public education system was just sold to the highest bidder, and low-income communities of color are at risk of losing the most. DeVos’s agenda to redirect public funding for school vouchers, virtual charter schools, for-profit charter schools, unaccredited private schools, and schools that regularly discriminate against children is a direct attack on one of our country’s last universally-acknowledged public goods, education. We will continue to reject DeVos’s attempts to weaken the rights of our children and parents, and we will fiercely defend our public education.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and former head of the UFT

“DeVos’ confirmation battle has a major silver lining: The public in public education has never been more visible or more vocal, and it is not going back in the shadows. This same public — from rural towns to urban centers, from liberals to conservatives — will now serve as a check and balance, and they will be fierce fighters on behalf of children. I am honored to be a soldier in that movement for children.”

New York State United Teachers union

“The irony is inescapable: While educators are required to prove they are qualified in order to work in the classroom, the U.S. Senate has confirmed a dangerous ideologue with absolutely no experience or qualifications to lead the U.S. Department of Education.”

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