Politics & Government

NC’s Tillis says DeVos will improve charters and school choice

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., supports Betsy DeVos for U.S. Department of Education secretary, he said Thursday.

Meanwhile, some Democrats and left-leaning groups were still making last-minute – and fruitless – attempts on social media to organize phone lobbying aimed at Tillis’ office. The groups pressed for people in North Carolina to flood Tillis’ office phone lines with pleas to vote against President Donald Trump’s nomination of DeVos. Twitter and Facebook posts claiming Tillis was “undecided” were shared quickly.

But Tillis said his decision is firm.

“I’m for her,” Tillis said, mentioning DeVos’ stances on increasing opportunities for charter schools and school choice.

Tillis, who served as speaker of the House in North Carolina before taking office in the U.S. Senate in 2014, said school choice is working in his home state and DeVos would champion those types of programs. He noted programs like North Carolina’s opportunity scholarship for kindergarten through high school students to attend private schools with government tuition assistance.

DeVos, Tillis said Thursday, won’t pile on federal education mandates for states and local school districts if she’s confirmed by the Senate.

“She’s talking about giving states the ability to turn a trend around – which is (the trend of) failing public schools. Not all of them. There’s a lot of good ones,” Tillis said. “We owe to these kids to come up with solutions to fix it for this generation, not the next generation.”

North Carolina’s senior U.S. senator, Richard Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem, also supports DeVos. During a committee meeting Tuesday to vote to move forward with consideration of DeVos’ nomination, Burr defended DeVos’ record of philanthropy and volunteering for education and arts causes. He criticized Democrats for politically maneuvering to fight her nomination, saying they bypassed her qualifications and oppose her only because Trump nominated her.

The Senate will likely take up DeVos’ nomination early next week. With at least two Republican senators planning to vote with Democrats on the nomination, it’s likely Vice President Mike Pence could be the tie-breaking vote on DeVos.

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews

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