NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Some Tennessee Democrats and a Metro Nashville Public Schools parent made a last minute plea in a news conference urging phone calls to the state’s senators against the nomination of Betsy DeVos, but a Tennessee charter advocacy group quickly chided the effort .
“Do not vote for this unqualified enemy of the public schools,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart. “We need 10,000 phone calls made this weekend.”
He was joined by Memphis representatives G.A. Hardaway and Joe Towns, along with Lyn Hoyt, an MNPS parent who is part of the education advocacy group TREE.
“I am standing here in representation of my vast network of parents and teachers,” said Hoyt during the news conference. “Make the phone calls this weekend. Make it happen.”
There is also been an effort on Facebook from local teaching groups urging Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker to change their support for DeVos by next week’s vote.
The case against Devos has been one of Washington’s biggest debates over a nominee of President Trump.
Critics cite her lack of public school experience and strong advocacy of charter schools as an alternative.
House Republican leader Glen Casada was agreeing that phone calls need to be made, but just as a way of urging the two senators to continue support for DeVos.
“We need to applaud President Trump who thinks outside the box,” Rep. Casada told News 2. “He’s nominated someone who thinks outside the box. Most of the time public education works well. When it does not. there must be other tools in the tool box. One of those is charters. One of those is vouchers.”
At the news conference, Rep. Towns argued that charters and vouchers “steal money from public education..”
Tommy Schulz, a spokesperson for the charter advocacy group Tennessee Federation of Children, countered the House Democrats in a statement that read, in part, “(their) extremist rhetoric is simply a reflection that too many others in their party are out of ideas and out of step with their own constituency.”