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Andrew Gillum says he stands with Florida teachers in opposing Betsy DeVos

Tallahassee Mayor and potential 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum says America’s kids deserve someone better than Betsy DeVos to serve as education secretary.

The U.S. Senate voted early Friday to advance President Trump‘s choice at education to a final confirmation vote, expected Monday. The vote was 52-48 along party lines.

Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson has already announced that he will oppose DeVos, as have Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. No other Republican Senator has joined them, however.

In his statement, Gillum says “the attack on our teachers must end,” adding that DeVos responses during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Education Committee earlier this month, “fell woefully short of the kind of leadership we need to ensure that all Floridians have a quality education.”

National teachers unions have mounted an aggressive campaign against DeVos, contending that she is an ideological extremist with a record of undermining the public schools her department would oversee.

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest teacher’s union. It boasts over 140,000 members statewide, and getting their support in a statewide race would be a huge boost for any Democrat.

Here is Gillum’s full statement:

“Public education changed the trajectory of my life. I can still hear my grandmother’s voice telling me to ‘Go to school, mind my teachers, get my lesson, and bring that education home — for my brothers, my baby sister and the kids down the street.’ It was a reminder that if we were going to get anywhere; we would get there together. As a student at Westwood Middle School, I never thought I would excel in challenging courses until a teacher named Ms. Alexandria encouraged me to try my hand at an honors class.

“The attack on our teachers must end, because it hurts the ability of the vast majority of our kids to get an education that will position them to succeed. A high-quality public education is a civil right. This is why I stand shoulder to shoulder with Florida’s teachers in opposition to Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. Her answers during her Senate hearing fell woefully short of the kind of leadership we need to ensure that all Floridians have a quality education.

“We have an opportunity to re-imagine how we deliver a world-class public education for our kids; while also supporting the teaching professionals who carry the responsibility of helping shape the young minds who will power us into the future.

“Our kids deserve better than Betsy DeVos.”

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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