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Local education leaders speak out against DeVos

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Betsy DeVos will serve as the country's next U.S. Secretary of Education. The U.S. Senate confirmed the nominee Tuesday with Vice President Pence serving as the tie breaker in a final vote of 51-50. But as WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley reports, local education leaders are bracing for an attack on public education.  

“I think this is probably the worst secretary of education that we have ever had in the history of the Department of Education,” said Phil Rumore, President of the Buffalo Teachers Federation.

Rumore was responding to the confirmation of DeVos as the new federal education leader. He called it a "travesty" for public school children.

“But what we have to is we just have to ‘batten down the hatches’ and then we have to be prepared to fight for what we believe, which is, fight for our kids,” Rumore replied.

He was highly critical of DeVos and her comments made during her confirmation hearing about allowing guns in schools.

“Here is a woman that things that we should arm people in the schools out west to keep students safe from grizzly bears and also has no experience in a public school,” Rumore said.

“Honestly, it’s a lot of anger, frustration,” Jennifer Mecozzi, Buffalo School Board Member. 

Mecozzi is upset with the confirmation of DeVos because of her past support for charter school and private school vouchers.

“So I don’t know if she’s going to be able to deal with whatever backlash that’s going to happen across the nation. To be honest, I don’t know what’s going to happen in Buffalo. The people are fired up. She’s going to see or hear me. In one way, shape or another, she’s going to hear Buffalo,” Mecozzi said.

Even from higher public education there appears to be a lack confidence in DeVos. 

WBFO asked Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner to weigh in on the DeVos confirmation.

“I would like to think that we would have someone that had a stronger background or a background in public education, so enough said,” Conway-Turner remarked. 

Meanwhile, city school board member Mecozzi said she is hoping many public districts will ban together to stand up against DeVos. Mecozzi said that as an elected leader, she will do whatever it takes to fight for public school children.

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