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Chattanoogans speak out against Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos

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Hamilton County teachers and parents gathered in Downtown Chattanooga Monday asking Senator Lamar Alexander to vote "no" on Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. The protest comes one day before the senate confirmation vote.

Teachers said they came out Monday because they keep trying to contact Senator Alexander, but their calls go unanswered and they wanted to prove a point.

Parents with colorful signs ---praising local public schools--- marched with teachers against Betsy DeVos, who they said would take away funding from public schools. “All children deserve the same opportunity in education. I do not think Betsy DeVos policies provide that. It makes me angry,” said Lauren Allen, a parent of two boys.

Some believe she isn't qualified for the position and has very little experience with the public education system. “We need people who understand how to educate and be in charge of our schools,” said Madeline Dougherty.

The peaceful protest at the federal courthouse lasted less than an hour. Their message was simple. They want the senator's help to vote against President Trump's nomination. “We want him to know that we are here watching and we want him to take action on this.”

In statement to Channel 3 the senator’s spokeswoman said the senator is confident in Trump’s choice.

"Sen. Alexander welcomes all Tennesseans’ comments and keeps them in mind when making decisions. He has spent a great deal of time with Betsy DeVos, reviewed pages and pages of her paperwork, chaired a 3 1/2 hour hearing where she answered senators' questions - and, he, a former Secretary of education, believes she is an excellent nominee who has committed to supporting public schools, implementing the bipartisan law that fixed No Child Left Behind as it was written, and enforcing IDEA, the law supporting the education of children with disabilities.”

She serves as the chairperson of the American Federation for Children. The nation’s leading school choice advocacy group.

But some don't buy it. Mariah Varner attended to stand up for students who need special services. She added such students need strong advocacy. “Cut valued resources. I don't feel we will be able to fight the good fight for special needs adults finding their place in the world,” said the Special Education teacher.  She hopes Monday’s message proves a point. “Public education is already so bared bones, minimum funding, minimum sources.”

The HELP committee will hold its executive session to vote on the nomination of Betsy DeVos to become the next Secretary of Education Tuesday.

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