Don’t fear DeVos, says local school boss | VailDaily.com

Don’t fear DeVos, says local school boss

President Trump's new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, was confirmed when Vice President Mike Pence was called to the Senate floor to cast the deciding vote.

EAGLE — President Donald Trump's new Secretary of Education probably won't change the way local school districts do business, superintendent of Eagle County Schools said.

Eagle County Schools superintendent Jason Glass said new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has an "ideological agenda that is not in the best interest of public schools."

However, Congress curtailed the education department's authority to push a federal agenda on local schools, making that move under the Obama administration's Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Glass said. Like her predecessors, DeVos will be limited in her ability to push her agenda.

"Even though she has an ideological agenda, her authority has been really scaled back under federal law, along with the ability of the federal government to push what they want onto states and local districts," Glass said. "I don't have any fear of Betsy DeVos or the U.S. Department of Education dramatically influencing what we're doing here."

The Senate confirmed DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote. It's the first time a vice president has been called to the Capitol to break a tie on a Cabinet nomination.

DeVos' confirmation followed a 24-hour effort by Senate Democrats to block it.

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DeVos tweeted after the vote, "I appreciate the Senate's diligence and am honored to serve as secretary. Let's improve options and outcomes for all U.S. students."

Split on party lines

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, voted against DeVos' confirmation. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner voted for it.

"As a product of public schools myself, and a father with one child — soon to be three — in the public school system, I believe it is important to have someone leading the Department of Education who will fight for public schools," Gardner said in a statement. "The debate around her nomination has been a healthy exercise of our democracy, made all the more important because it involves our most precious possession, our children. As someone who believes education decisions should be left to parents and their children with policy driven locally, Congress will hold her accountable and I will work to ensure she lives up to the commitment she made to me."

Bennet's reaction was the polar opposite.

"This nomination is an insult to school children and their families, to teachers and principals and to communities fighting to improve their public schools," Bennet said.

DeVos has been active in Michigan's Republican Party as an activist and fundraiser. She has been criticized for what opponents say is her support for school choice through charter schools and vouchers. She has also been criticized for what opponents say is her limited experience with public school systems.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.