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Betsy DeVos supporters & critics lobby ahead of confirmation vote

Jan 30, 2017

A U.S. Senate committee votes tomorrow on the nomination of west Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. Secretary of Education.

Michigan groups for and against the controversial nomination were busy over the weekend lobbying before the vote.

Gary Naeyaert is the executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project, which was founded by Betsy DeVos.

He says Betsy DeVos is an excellent choice to guide America's education system.

“She’s been an advocate for 30 years. And she’s been active in education reform and educational choice and active with schools,” says Naeyaert. “She just hasn’t been active with and involved in unionized traditional public schools.”

That irks teachers’ unions, who claim DeVos has worked against traditional public schools.

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Russ Bellant is with Save Michigan’s Public Schools. He says DeVos is the wrong choice to lead an agency that works with traditional public schools.

“Even as a parent … (DeVos is) not a person who’s ever been known to go inside a public school and spend any time with the public education community and show any sign of concern about their welfare or success,” claims Bellant.

Democrats on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions are all planning to vote against DeVos’ nomination. But unless they can convince some Republicans to join them, either in the committee or in the full senate, DeVos will be confirmed.

Adding to the pressure on Republicans, DeVos has been a major GOP campaign contributor over the years.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, records show the DeVos family has donated more than $80 million to Republicans since 1999. And at her confirmation hearing, Betsy DeVos was asked if that figure could be as high as $200 million. Her response? “That’s possible.”