In summary

With a historic assist from the vice president, the U.S. Senate today narrowly approved Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education after a series of tense hearings sparked protests and exposed bipartisan fear about her fitness to oversee the nation’s public schools.

With a historic assist from the vice president, the U.S. Senate narrowly approved Betsy DeVos to lead the federal Department of Education after a series of tense hearings sparked protests and exposed bipartisan fear about her fitness to oversee the nation’s public schools.

Two Republican senators joined Democrats in refusing to back the DeVos appointment, so Vice President Mike Pence cast the final vote in her favor to break an exceedingly rare tie. Picks for education secretary are rarely controversial, but this time was different. Senate Democrats seized on her lack of direct experience with public schools and her inability during her confirmation hearing to answer basic questions about how they operate.

Picks for education secretary are rarely controversial, but this time was different. Senate Democrats seized on her lack of direct experience with public schools and her inability during her confirmation hearing to answer basic questions about how they operate.

DeVos, a Michigan native, is a leading advocate of publicly-funded private school vouchers who could move swiftly to implement the $20 billion school choice program Donald Trump pitched on the campaign trail if the concept wins support in Congress.

But even an act of Congress may not get her very far in California. Democrats at every level of government oppose the concept, and voters here have twice rejected private school voucher initiatives.

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