Teachers protest Alexander’s backing of DeVos, ignored phone calls

About 150 people, many of them teachers, protested outside Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Nashville office Friday in a show of opposition to the Republican senator’s support for Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, reports The Tennessean.

Educators at the protest said DeVos, a Michigan billionaire and vocal supporter of charter school expansion, is not qualified for the job. Unlike former education secretaries, DeVos has not attended, taught or held a leadership position in public schools.

DeVos, at times, was unable to answer questions about education policy and law at her confirmation hearing Jan. 17. Democrats were on the attack during the meeting, while Republicans defended DeVos, including Alexander, who said she is “on our children’s side.”

Educators said they hope Alexander will reconsider his support of DeVos.

“We’re here because we’re schoolteachers, because we’re parents,” said Jenee Peters, a sixth-grade math teacher in Washington County. “She never went to public school, her children never went to public school. She knows nothing about public school, and that was very clear during her confirmation hearings.”

… Numerous teachers said they’ve called Alexander’s offices to be met only by messages of a full voicemail box.

A spokeswoman for Alexander said in a statement his staff has answered office telephones as fast as possible, but there’s been an overwhelming number of calls, mostly from people with various opinions on President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees.

“Sen. Alexander welcomes all Tennesseans’ comments and keeps them in mind when making decisions,” the statement said.

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