What’s at stake

2/10/2017, 10:25 p.m.

Our spirits are heavy with the Trump victories this week that put Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Betsy DeVos in the critical roles of U.S. attorney general and U.S. secretary of education, respectively.

The fight for civil rights, voting rights, gay rights, immigration and equity in education just got tougher, but we knew what was coming and are ready for the battles ahead.

We are heartened by the courageous efforts of Congressional lawmakers to stand tall against the flurry of loathsome executive orders President Trump has handed down and the ill-chosen cabinet nominees he has sent to the U.S. Senate.

The chaos created by all, including the Muslim immigration ban, throws into question who we really are as a nation and what we are willing to swallow for the sake of a new president.

While we await the ruling expected later this week from the federal appeals court on the order affecting Muslims and refugees entering the United States, we cheered the backbone shown earlier this week by Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine who broke with the party line to vote their conscience and against Ms. DeVos.

Because no other Republicans had the guts to join the wall of Democrats in opposing her nomination, Vice President Mike Pence, a Trump shill, broke the Senate’s 50-50 tie to hand Ms. DeVos the nomination.

It was abundantly clear from Ms. DeVos’ confirmation hearings that she has not a scintilla of knowledge or understanding of education, much less public education and the system that she is charged with overseeing.

We have no expectation that she will go to bat for our children or take action to address many of the problems that plague our education system, including the lack of resources for inner-city schools, the school-to-prison pipeline system of discipline, the disparate placement of children of color in special education classes and the lack of opportunity that awaits too many who do complete high school.

What we can expect for the next four years is a secretary of education ready to do all she can to deconstruct a system of public education that while not perfect, is charged under law with providing equal education to all children, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or disability. We must ensure that whatever notions Ms. DeVos sends down the pike from Washington — or that emanate from her like-minded minions in state legislatures and the hinterlands — don’t strip taxpayer funds from our already underfunded public schools to go to private or parochial education.

We also point out that another woman, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, was shut down by the Senate majority leader when she took a stand against the nomination of Sen. Sessions by trying to get into the Senate record the words of the late Coretta Scott King, who had opposed Sen. Sessions’ nomination to a federal judgeship in the 1980s.

We know Sen. Sessions’ vile record on civil rights and opposition to federal voting rights. But to be clear: Just like some Democrats voted for Mr. Trump for president, others are welcoming his nominees and executive orders. For example, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted to confirm Sen. Sessions.