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Al Franken slams new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos: 'The most incompetent Cabinet-level nominee I have ever seen'

Abby Jackson
al franken

(Sen. Al Franken.AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

After Betsy DeVos was confirmed as secretary of education on Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota issued a blistering statement, calling her unqualified for the job.

"It's not a job for amateurs who don't know the first thing about education," the statement said. "I voted against the nomination of Betsy DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor, because she is the most incompetent Cabinet-level nominee I have ever seen."

Franken's statement comes on the heels of one of the most contentious confirmation processes a secretary of education has seen. The position is typically confirmed without major opposition.

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An advocate for alternatives to public schooling, DeVos championed charter schools and school-voucher initiatives in her home state of Michigan, where she served as chairwoman of the state's Republican Party.

Democrats have argued that she is unqualified to be secretary of education, a view that centered on a confirmation hearing in which DeVos was grilled on several issues and often gave vague answers or said she was currently unable to provide a response. In what was perhaps the most widely circulated exchange, when asked about guns on campuses, DeVos said guns could "protect from potential grizzlies."

This isn't the first time Franken has had harsh words for DeVos. During DeVos' confirmation hearing in January, Franken asked DeVos for her opinion on measuring student progress — specifically, on the debate about proficiency versus growth. When she appeared to get stuck on the answer, Franken criticized her for not knowing about what he believed to be a basic topic.

"This is a subject that has been debated in the education community for years," Franken said. "It surprises me that you don't know this issue."

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