Parents, teachers protest Kansas senator’s plan to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Some Kansas parents and teachers are pressuring their senator to change his mind and vote “no” on President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. Secretary of Education.

Two Republican senators declared they’d vote down Betsy DeVos this week. The same day, Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran said he also had concerns about DeVos, but still planned to vote to confirm her.

That announcement led to staffers getting an earful at his Olathe office Friday.

“My taxpayer money should go to publicly funded schools. There should be no special interests,” one woman told staff.

Phones were ringing constantly in the background as protesters outside the office also voiced their frustrations with Betsy DeVos.

“She doesn’t have a doctorate, she doesn’t have a Masters, she’s never really been in an education setting,” father of four Richard Bolejack said.

“I work in public schools, I’m from a family of teachers and I don’t understand how she can be qualified for this position,” Lawrence teacher and parent Emily Boedeker said.

Despite a lack of classroom experience, DeVos held education leadership positions in Michigan where she was a big supporter of voucher programs, which many protesters see as directing federal dollars from public schools to private schools.

“I’ve only gone to private school myself, but like I said I’m concerned for all kids, they are our future so that’s where we need to be investing our resources,” Molly Oller, a Johnson County mother said.

“I really like my school and I just don’t want my school to suffer from what’s going on,” high school sophomore Chloe Hixson said.

Senator Moran’s office told FOX 4 he appreciates the input, but protesters left with the impression from staffers he was unwilling to change his vote, supporting DeVos’ nomination.

“The direction of education in this country will be drastically changed with this nominee,” retired teacher Jeanne Elmer said.

Senator Moran said in a news release many of his prior concerns about DeVos were alleviated when he met with her. The senator said DeVos told him there won’t be a federally mandated voucher program in Kansas.