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Photo courtesy of Annie Hart
Photo courtesy of Annie Hart
Parents gathered outside of P.S. 290 in Ridgewood to protest Betsy DeVos' appointment as education secretary with a candlelight vigil.

Hours before the U.S. Senate confirmed President Donald Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as education secretary on Tuesday afternoon, concerned Ridgewood parents gathered outside of P.S. 290 on Monday night, Feb. 6, to oppose her appointment with a candlelight vigil.

“We joined together tonight in front of P.S. 290Q as parents who feel deeply invested in strong public education,” parent Annie Hart said. “We are proud public school graduates and concerned Ridgewood parents whose children are in or about to enter the NYC public school system.”

Parents and teachers are concerned that DeVos is underqualified for the position of education secretary, pointing out that she has never held a teaching position — or even attended public school — and are worried about her stance on defunding public education.

“We are protesting the appointment of Betsy DeVos as our education secretary. She has spent her career advancing for-profit charter schools as solutions to difficult problems that have only produced worse results,” Hart added. “Yet she is steadfastly against any oversight or accountability of the schools or their methods. As an independently wealthy billionaire, who has never gone to public school or sent her kids to public school, she is grossly out of touch with what our U.S. education system stands for. The U.S. Senate needs to take a stand and make sure that we get an education secretary who believes in quality public education for all.”

All 46 Democratic senators — including New York’s Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — two Independent senators, and two Republican senators voted to deny DeVos’ appointment. Fifty Republican senators voted in DeVos’ favor, leading to a 50-50 tie. Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote, approving DeVos as the country’s education secretary on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Several of New York’s other elected officials announced their opposition for DeVos, and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley supported those in protest of Trump’s pick.

“A strong public education is a fundamental right that must be afforded to all Americans,” Crowley said. “Betsy DeVos’ ideas of defunding public education is dangerous to our children’s futures. We must choose leaders who support strengthening our public schools and who recognize the value in this – not one who doesn’t support them.”

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