Betsy DeVos/Instagram

Despite outrage from celebrities and Democratic politicians over her appointment, education secretary Betsy DeVos is ready to get to work

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February 09, 2017 11:54 AM

Betsy DeVos‘ appointment as education secretary was a controversial one, with the wealthy GOP donor confirmed to the position by the Senate on Tuesday in a 51-50 vote — pushed in her favor by Vice President Mike Pence, who cast the historic, tie-breaking ballot.

But despite outrage from celebrities and Democratic politicians, DeVos is ready to get to work.

The 59-year-old mother of four tweeted a photo of herself in her office late Tuesday night, writing, “Day 1 on the job is done, but we’re only getting started.”

“Now where do I find the pencils?” she added, with a smile face.

DeVos has been widely criticized for weeks for her multiple conflicts of interest and her apparent lack of knowledge of basic education policy.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty

The billionaire former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, DeVos had struggled through tough questioning by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as she essentially interviewed for the position as the nation’s top education policy-maker and policy-enforcer.

One of the most viral moments from the meeting came when Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy (D) asked if guns had any place in or around schools. DeVos advocated to have that that decision made by the “locals and states,” adding that a Wyoming elementary school would likely have a gun in school “to protect from potential grizzlies.”

DeVos also admitted during the committee hearings that she had no personal experience with public K-12 schools or using federal student loans like Pell Grants — which are awarded to undergraduate students dependent on financial need, cost of attendance and more.

She also made headlines when she seemed to be unaware of the difference between student proficiency and student growth — much to the outrage of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D).

Speaking to Education Department staff on Wednesday, DeVos said, “[For] many, the events of the last few weeks have likely raised more questions and spawned more confusion than they have brought light and clarity.”

“So, for starters, please know, I’m a ‘door open’ type of person who listens more than speaks.” And the confirmation process, she joked, “has been kind of a bear.”

DeVos and her family have been major donors to the GOP, giving an estimated $818,000 to 20 current Republican senators during the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, said the Post. Five senators who received donations from DeVos’ family sit on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

 

President Donald Trump and Jeb Bush congratulated DeVos on her narrow win on Tuesday.

“I congratulate @BetsyDeVos on her confirmation as our nation’s next Secretary of Education. The President made an excellent choice,” Bush wrote.

“Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos is real victory for parents and children choosing schools they need.victory for Pres Trump and America,” added Newt Gingrich.

DeVos herself addressed the Senate’s heated debate over her nomination in a tweet following her confirmation.

“I appreciate the Senate’s diligence & am honored to serve as @usedgov Secretary,” she wrote. “Let’s improve options & outcomes for all US students.”

As she was confirmed, hundreds of New York City high school and college students walked out of class and gathered in Manhattan’s Foley Square in protest of Trump and his executive order temporarily banning refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

According to Gothamist, the protesters booed DeVos’ coinciding confirmation after one student speaker shouted, “Betsy DeVos was confirmed today despite her shameful inexperience and complete lack of understanding for the very job she seeks.”

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