By Melissa Garcia
DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds of parents, teachers and other community members rallied outside the office of Sen. Cory Gardner.
Protesters were urging Gardner to vote against confirmation of Betsy DeVos, nominee for the U.S. education secretary.
A final vote by the Senate was scheduled to happen next week.
A spokesperson for the Colorado Education Association, an organizer behind the rally, said he was surprised with the sizeable turnout.
Protesters shouted chants like “save our schools, no DeVos,” hoping that staff members inside Gardner’s office would hear them.
DeVos, a Michigan billionaire and former Republican Party chair recently came under fire for her positions on public and charter schools, as well as statements made during her confirmation hearing last month.
“She felt very out of touch with what my day-to-day reality with students actually is,” said Heather C., a public school teacher in the Denver metro area.
She said that DeVos lacked the experience needed to run the country’s education and higher learning finance systems. For that reason, she was asking Gardner to help rescind DeVos’ nomination.
“And for him to realize that we are not paid protesters,” Heather C. continued. “And that simply because someone disagrees with his point of view does not mean they’re being bribed or that they have some other kind of agenda.”
DeVos supporters applauded her work in conservative education reform.
The nominee and her husband have funded a series of efforts to turn public school funding into vouchers for students to attend private schools.
DeVos’ history made it clear to some that President Trump intends to follow through on his campaign vows to use federal funds to encourage states to provide school choice for low-income children.
“We don’t support the defunding of public education in this country,” said Samuel Jarris, a protester. “ … which is basically taking public dollars and giving it to private institutions, in the guise of choice.”
Protesters were also asking Gardner for a town hall meeting and said that so far it had not been granted.
CBS4’s Melissa Garcia reached out to Gardner’s office for comment, as well as the office of DeVos, but did not hear back.