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Closter Couple Stands Up For Public Education

Former Closter Councilman Joel Zelnik and his wife Francine, a preschool teacher in Tenafly.
Former Closter Councilman Joel Zelnik and his wife Francine, a preschool teacher in Tenafly. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

CLOSTER, N.J. — Betsy DeVos hasn't been appointed as U.S. Secretary of Education yet, and Closter's Joel and Francine Zelnik want to keep it that way.

The couple is hoping one more Republican senator will defect DeVos' nomination for the position in  U.S. President Donald Trump's cabinet before the confirmation vote at noon Tuesday.

The tie-breaking vote would come from Vice President Mike Pence.

"Would you walk into an operating room and tell the surgeon how to operate?" Joel, a longtime educator, said while standing outside Hillside School.

"Unless you've had the same training and experience, it's quite ludicrous."

Many Americans — including Francine, a preschool teacher in Tenafly, and Joel — are questioning the billionaire donor's intentions to strengthen public schools as her concentration on charter schools and vouchers has indicated otherwise.

"Public schools are the bedrock of our democracy," said Matt Gonzales, the vigil's coorganizer as well as a teacher recognition consultant in the New York City Department of Education.

"We deserve a U.S. Secretary of Education who understands public education, who knows our schools and who believes in the public," he added. "We are the public, and these are our schools."

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