The full Senate is scheduled to vote on Betsy DeVos’ nomination to lead the Department of Education tomorrow (February 7) at noon EST. Ahead of that vote, Democrats in the Senate are holding court in an attempt to shift the numbers in favor of a no vote.
Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) tweeted ahead of the action:
We have one more day to convince a Republican to vote no on the nomination of Betsy DeVos. Keep calling.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) February 6, 2017
The Hill confirmed the all-night talkathon via a spokesperson for Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.)—the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which held DeVos’ hearing last month: “Democrats plan to keep the floor open and there will be speeches over the night in this final push.”
Senate Democrats oppose DeVos across the board, citing ethics concerns, her lack of experience with the public school system, her lack of familiarity with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, her financial ties to the GOP and her refusal to support the previous administration’s Title IX guidance on handling sexual assault for cisgender and trans students on college campuses.
What both charter schools and vouchers have in common, say critics, is that they perpetuate the racial segregation of U.S. schools, even as the nation’s school-age population grows ever more diverse. While minority parents are being given more choices about where to enroll their children, these choices rarely extend to schools that are more integrated by race or ethnicity, critics say. Instead, the choices for families in low-income, minority-dominated school districts are often between low-performing public schools and alternatives such as charters or voucher-dependent private schools with similar student bodies.
Two Republican senators—Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine)—have already said that they will not support DeVos during the vote (despite voting for her in committee). Senators and activists are urging people to call GOP senators who might be open to voting against the nominee. If they hold party lines, the final vote will be 50 for and 50 against, leaving Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote. The American Federation of Teachers’ calling tool urges users to encourage their senators to vote no on DeVos for secretary of education.