Ryan Townsend, a public school science teacher in Lincoln, N.D., wrote the following open letter to U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) in response to his support of Betsy DeVos for education secretary. A vote on DeVos is scheduled tomorrow, with the Senate currently divided 50-50 on her confirmation. Hoeven has said he supports her because of her “business skills.”
Dear Senator Hoeven,
Thank you for your reply to my letter expressing my concerns about President Trump’s nomination of Mrs. DeVos. In your reply you mentioned it was your job to “thoroughly review the record and qualifications of each nominee.” I would imagine that didn’t take long since her experience and qualifications are next to none when it comes to public education. I would guess it took you less time to read the one sentence I sent you about my 16 years in education both in the classroom and at various levels of leadership than it did to vet her entire career. I couldn’t help but notice though that you didn’t specify or list any of Mrs. DeVos’s experiences or qualifications in public schools in your reply.
Thank you, sir, for saving 1000s of public educators from ourselves. We listened to her testimony and heard her lack of experience, we read about the public funds siphoned away from Michigan’s public education system, and we saw the profits pocketed at the expense of our passion and our youth. However, you alone stood up to tell us that despite all the horrors we see in her nomination, that a party vote in DC was more important than the feedback and support of those that you represent.
I recently saw a room full of fellow educational leaders ask you to simply vote NO. I watched as friends from across the state urged people to call, write, and email with our sincere concerns. I myself wrote you asking for a NO vote. The only reply we all received was a form letter telling us that despite all our feedback you were still going to send a party vote of YES.
I was born and raised in Alaska and could not be prouder of Senator Murkowski who in reply to the feedback from 1000s of her constituents – who also value their public, rural schools – said she would listen to them and vote NO. It took true guts for her to listen to the public and stand against her party, but she is doing it to represent her state.
The next time I am asked to support your run to represent us I will remember your choice for me and my family here in North Dakota.
Dr. Ryan Townsend Ed.D.