HAPPENING NOW: Senate Democrats host a 24-hour marathon to stop Betsy DeVos.

With confirmation fast approaching, Democrats need to pick up one more vote against DeVos.

At noon on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, the U.S. Senate will vote on President Donald Trump's secretary of Education nominee.

This is normal. What's happening in the 24 hours leading up to the vote, on the other hand, is not normal at all.

In an effort to win over one of their Republican colleagues, Senate Democrats are pulling an all-night filibuster as they take turns making the case against Betsy DeVos, Trump's choice to head the Department of Education. For 24 hours, Democrats plan to hold the floor in the run-up to a vote that may very well determine the future of America's public education system.


DeVos speaks during her confirmation hearing on Jan. 17, 2017. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.

Two Republicans have already indicated plans to vote against DeVos. It'll take at least one more vote to tip the scales.

Last week, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) came forward to announce that they would not vote to confirm DeVos. With the 46 Democrats, two Independents, and now two Republicans lining up against DeVos, it looks like there are 50 votes for confirmation and 50 votes against.

Should the vote end up being a tie, Vice President Mike Pence has indicated that he will cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm DeVos as the next Education secretary.

There are a number of reasons to oppose DeVos' nomination that should have people on both sides of the aisle feeling a bit nervous.

For one, DeVos has never attended or worked in a public school, her children have all gone to private schools, and she has no experience working in government or education. There's also the fact that she's a proponent of shifting tax dollars from public schools to charter programs in an effort to "advance God's kingdom" through the education system.

And finally, there's the simple matter of her nomination being "pay-to-play" politics at its absolute worst. DeVos and her family have donated more than $200 million to Republicans through the years. In 1997, she even wrote, "I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. ... We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment."

Additionally, DeVos had a pretty disastrous confirmation hearing in which she suggested that guns in schools might be a good idea because of bears, showed ignorance about a federal disability law, dodged questions about protecting LGBTQ students and victims of sexual assault, and made it abundantly clear why her confirmation appears to be the one cabinet nomination that may not meet the required 51-vote threshold.

So far, the filibuster is off to a strong start, as Democratic senators implore their colleagues to prioritize the welfare of America's students over party lines.

No matter how this vote goes, it's good to see the Senate living up to its potential as one of the world's great deliberative bodies.

If there's a case to be made against (or for) DeVos, it will most certainly be made between now and tomorrow's vote. The exchange of ideas and action that follows is democracy in action.

It's even better to know that elected officials take into account what constituents think. Sen. Murkowski indicated that her decision to vote "no" was influenced by "thousands of Alaskans who have shared their concerns about Mrs. DeVos as Secretary of Education, by phone, in person, by email and through petition."

Between now and when the Senate votes on DeVos, there's still time for constituents to take action — whether it's calling their senators to thank them for their vote against DeVos or trying to convince them to change their minds.

If you're interested in calling but aren't sure what to say? No worries. 5 Calls is a great resource for calling your elected officials on any topic.

Watch the 24-hour action from the Senate floor filibuster here:

LIVE: Senate Dems protest Betsy DeVos

WATCH LIVE: Democrats in the Senate will hold the floor all night to protest the nomination of Betsy DeVos to secretary of Education.

Posted by The Hill on Monday, February 6, 2017
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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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