If her critics are to be believed, Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is a danger to special education, could end public schooling and has plans that “will kill children.”
Think that’s hyperbole?
“That is not an exaggeration in any sense,” tweeted Vanity Fair film critic Richard Lawson, who fired off a series of tweets early Tuesday arguing that DeVos’ confirmation would be deadly for “queer and other at-risk kids” – because of DeVos’ support for voucher programs.
“Voucher programs will create systems in which queer kids have literally zero access to support apparatus bc they are in religious schools,” Lawson wrote. “Meaning voucher programs will lead to more suicides. Betsy DeVos’s policies will kill children.”
DeVos’ nomination is set for a noon vote in the Senate on Tuesday, and, despite the defection of two Republican senators, she’s likely to be confirmed – though by the slimmest of margins. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to cast the deciding vote in his role as president of the Senate.
But critics like Lawson have gone into overdrive in a bid to convince just one more senator to oppose the school choice advocate.
Democrats kept the Senate in session all night into Tuesday morning protesting the DeVos nomination on the floor. “The president’s decision to ask Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education should offend every single American man, woman, and child who has benefitted from the public education system in this country,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
Schumer’s warning paled in comparison to some of the vitriol aimed at DeVos from the media.
“Betsy DeVos is the worst person to be around schoolbooks since Lee Harvey Oswald,” Bill Maher snarked on his “Real Time” show.
The New Republic urged readers not to “normalize Betsy Devos. Her views are simply much too dangerous.”
Actor-vist Mark Ruffalo appealed to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Twitter to be the third Republican “no” vote needed to defeat DeVos.
“Come on Marco, know where you stand and actually STAND there! You got kids. They have friends. You know better,” he wrote.
Come on Marco, know where you stand and actually STAND there! You got kids. They have friends. You know better. https://t.co/CYzfZd8SMI— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) February 7, 2017
The United Federation of Teachers called DeVos a “danger to special education,” while disabilities writer Elizabeth Picciuto wrote a piece for The Daily Beast saying she has “a special-needs son and Betsy DeVos scares me to death.”
Comedian John Fugelsang compared DeVos’ nomination to the Syrian refugee crisis.
“Refugees vetted 2 yrs before allowed to reunite w/families. Betsy Devos vetted 5 mins per Senator before allowed to run America’s schools,” Fugelsang wrote on Twitter.
“Westworld” and James Bond actor Jeffrey Wright has frequently blasted DeVos, including one tweet that implied Chief of Staff Reince Priebus only cared about the money DeVos has contributed to Republican political candidates.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, suggested her confirmation could threaten the “existence of public education.”
On Tuesday morning, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway voiced confidence in DeVos' confirmation and defended her views on public school alternatives.
"[Democrats are] trying to humiliate and embarrass some of these nominees," Conway told Fox News, saying DeVos is committed to education.
DeVos herself has not engaged the online critics. Her most recent tweet came on Jan. 31: “If confirmed, I look forward to fighting for quality education for all students.”