Opinion: Rob Portman sold out students

Madison Newingham

As a “champion” of principled politics, Rob Portman vowed to be a voice of his constituents. His position as one of two U.S. senators of Ohio serves as his promise to uphold the Constitution.

Portman watched public students overwhelmingly exercise their First Amendment rights to the freedom of speech and assembly. He silenced those freedoms.

Portman had the ability with merely one vote to shut down Betsy DeVos’ nomination as secretary of education and force Trump to nominate a qualified individual to adhere to the needs of public school students nationwide.

DeVos was the weakest nominee of all Trump’s picks. She is another inexperienced, unrelatable billionaire in the executive and we can thank Portman for her being there.

Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that DeVos lacked critical experience in the sphere of public education. She has no experience personally taking out loans for herself or children, has a minimal understanding of a Pell Grant and, as secretary of education, cannot differentiate growth and proficiency (as was brought to light during her first Senate hearing).

This is unacceptable. Her underperforming and failing Michigan charter schools cannot occur nationwide.  

DeVos has a record in Ohio as well. According to Politico, DeVos owes Ohio $5.3 million for violating election laws.

In 2008, she ran a group called All Children Matter, lobbying for school-choice legislation, and knowingly funneled nearly $1 million from its nationwide PAC to the Ohio advocacy affiliate. The Ohio Elections Commission fined her advocacy group, but its debt has yet to be paid.

Trump vowed to “drain the swamp,” but his Cabinet reflects otherwise. DeVos has no qualifications, but she does have money, having donated over $200 million to the Republican Party along with the rest of her family.

Portman heard the concerns of Kent State students. College Democrats, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kent State and other KSU students inundated all five of Rob Portman’s offices, filling his inboxes to the point wherein students could no longer leave messages to voice their dissent.

For that reason, students know Portman heard their concern and simply disregarded those messages.

Instead of listening to to his constituents, Portman accepted $51,000 from Betsy DeVos, as verified by NBC. Following the money, Portman’s constituents can visualize the lack of value their voices hold in his decision-making process.

Their voices mean next to nothing. Portman sold his vote for $51,000 at the expense of his 350,000 constituents.

He silenced his constituents’ voices for profit.

Portman campaigned on being principled, and his actions reflect otherwise.

To remind Sen. Portman of who gives him his job, it is the people. The 17th Amendment established the popular election of U.S. senators by the people rather than the prior practice of state legislators selecting those representatives.

Americans did this to have a voice, and Portman silenced his those voices. He showed his constituents that he is another unrelatable, unprincipled man determining the course of Ohio politics by the dollar. Portman wants to know who can give him the most money, not what his people want.  

To remind Sen. Portman of the most fundamentally important aspect of our democracy, I reference the Preamble: “We the People” detest his vote for the confirmation of Betsy DeVos and we consequently detest his sell-out of public education.

Madison Newingham is a columnist, contact her at [email protected]