A Message for Lisa Murkowski Regarding Betsy DeVos

I just sent the following message to my senator, Lisa Murkowski. Alaskans, please visit her website if you wish to do the same. Senator Murkowski is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and as such she will have the opportunity to participate in hearings on DeVos's nomination for Secretary of Education and vote on whether to send her nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.

I would strongly encourage all educators, parents, and anyone else who supports public education to contact your senators and encourage them to reject Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.


My name is Peter Stanton, and I am a teacher in Ketchikan.

First of all, I want to thank Senator Murkowski for voting in favor of the amendment yesterday evening (January 11th) to lower prescription drug prices by importing drugs from Canada and other countries. I know the amendment didn't pass, but I truly appreciate that she broke from the majority of her Republican colleagues in order to support a commonsense measure to help all of us. That type of action is one of the reasons that so many Alaskans love Lisa.

Second, I want to address an issue that is of deep concern to me as a teacher and so many other teachers and parents across Alaska and across the country. That is the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.

Betsy DeVos has neither the experience nor the values to be an effective Secretary of Education. She has zero experience working in public education, and her track record is not one of supporting public schools at all. In fact, she clearly supports undermining and dismantling public schools in favor of promoting private schools and for-profit charter schools. The record of causes she has supported in Michigan shows that, indisputably.

Confirming a woman to oversee our nation's public schools who is clearly opposed to public education is downright Orwellian. We cannot hire a fox to watch the henhouse.

Senator Murkowski has been highly supportive of Alaska's public schools, and Alaska teachers know that. That's why NEA-Alaska endorsed her this past year, and why she has such strong support from teachers. I know Lisa put a lot of hard work into crafting ESSA so that the federal government will do better by Alaska schools and students. I appreciate that immensely. I watched Lisa speak at Ketchikan High School's graduation ceremony last spring, and Alaskans see how much she cares about our schools and students.

Supporting Betsy DeVos would do grave damage to our confidence in Lisa. I don't know of a single person working in public education who approves of DeVos overseeing our schools. If I might quote our NEA-Alaska President Tim Parker, he stated that Senator Murkowski "thinks like a teacher." Based on the many times I've heard Lisa speak, I think I have to agree. If that is the case, then, I sincerely hope Lisa will not support someone whom teachers overwhelmingly oppose.

Lastly, I have seen information published that Senator Murkowski's campaign received $40,500 in March of 2015 from eight different members of the DeVos family, given in fifteen separate contributions of $2,700 each. [See the source article here.] I understand that your spokeswoman Ms. Peterson stated that you do not take donations to Senator Murkowski's campaign into account when considering any issue. I respect that and that is incredibly important.

However, there is no question that if Lisa does support Betsy DeVos in her confirmation, those donations will be called into question again and again. Senator Murkowski has little to gain from approving someone who will not support Alaska schools, but she has much to lose in terms of trust and respect from Alaska parents and educators.

I strongly urge Senator Murkowski to reject Betsy DeVos's nomination and demand a candidate for Secretary of Education who will support public schools.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.