Online Organizing Surges Ahead of Betsy DeVos Nomination Vote

Betsy DeVos (Source: NBC News)

In the midst of a busy first week for President Trump, concerned parents and organizations have turned to online organizing to push against Betsy DeVos’ nomination as Secretary of Education, which the Senate is scheduled to vote on early next week.

One of the most popular petitions of 2017 so far was started by Casey Rogers, of Denver Colorado: Do Not Confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. It has garnered more than 225,000 signatures in just a few days. Rogers, whose youngest daughter has special needs, said she was shaken by DeVos’ response to questions during her confirmation hearing and was spurred to action.

Jenny McCardell, whose children attend public schools in Rochester Hills, Michigan, had this to say on her petition to President Trump to stop the appointment of DeVos, which is the second largest petition focused on DeVos’ nomination at Change.org: “If this happens, our children will undoubtedly be the pawns in a money making scheme in which the spirit of collaboration and public good, which is the basis of public education, will be transformed into competition and personal gain.”

Erin Whyland, who is trying to create solidarity among students with her petition Students Against Betsy DeVos, writes, “Our government is supposed to represent the people — and her past actions guided by her own narrow ideology are a clear indication that she shares no common ground with any of the students she would be representing. She has been chosen simply based upon her immense wealth and fiscal loyalty to the Republican Party.”

Another petition started by Corey Robin, a Brooklyn College political science professor, was directed to Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer to vote against DeVos or withdraw from speaking at CUNY commencement ceremonies this year. “As members of the extended community of the City University of New York — an institution that has been providing access and education to immigrants, working- and middle-class people, and people of color for decades — we believe that Ms. DeVos’s values are anything but educational,” Robin writes. “Her values are not our values.”

In the event that DeVos is confirmed, petition starters like Mahroh Jahangiri, Executive Director of Know Your IX — a national survivor organization empowering students to end sexual and dating violence in schools — have already requested that she maintain the strong enforcement of the protections for survivors of such violence. “Title IX mandates that schools prevent sexual harassment and violence on campus and promptly and equitably address it where it occurs,” Jahangiri writes. “Given that schools routinely shirk these obligations, the Department of Education’s work has been essential in holding schools accountable and helping ensure that students know about — and therefore, are able to advocate for — these rights.”

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