By BAY STEPHENS/Montana State News

Teachers and other concerned citizens rallied in front of Montana’s U.S. Republican Sen. Steve Daines’ office on Monday to protest president Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, who is considered inexperienced by many in the realm of education.

Kali St. Germain, a demonstration participant and Montana State University student, described the protest as stretching for at least half a block. The party marched outside Daines’ office, while some chanted, “We want education, not a corporation.”

St. Germain said that Daines’ did not appear before the crowd. A man from the office met the crowd to tell them that they “weren’t sure who they were going to vote for,” which, according to St. Germain, the crowd did not receive well. The protesters addressed postcards to the senator voicing their specific concerns, then disbanded.

“We don’t think [DeVos] is qualified,” St. Germain said, “because she doesn’t have any experience in education and she’s a multibillionaire.” Many are suspicious of the influence that large donations from the DeVos family to Trump’s campaign have had on the nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

The LA Times published Sanders’ statement at DeVos’ confirmation hearing on Tuesday:

“There is a growing fear that … we are moving toward what some would call an oligarchic society, where a small number of very wealthy billionaires control, to some degree, our economic and political life.”

St. Germain explained that DeVos would be in charge of the scholarship system across the United States. The potential for DeVos to undervalue and reduce scholarships makes St. Germain nervous, her college education having been made possible through scholarships.

Daines’ released this statement before DeVos’ nomination was passed out of committee onn a 12-11 vote on Tuesday:

“Betsy DeVos has a passion for education and will be a formidable leader at the Department of Education. I look forward to watching her shape the Department of Education to increase local control of our schools, with policies that originate with the parents, teachers and administrators who are closest to the classroom.”

– edited by Amanda Grover

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