DFER National President Statement on Secretary of Education-Designate Betsy DeVos

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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DFER National President Statement on Secretary of Education-Designate Betsy DeVos

Washington, DC –Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) National President Shavar Jeffries today released the following statement after his attendance at the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos:

“This week’s hearing for Betsy DeVos intensified our concerns about the policies she would carry out as U.S. Secretary of Education. We are particularly concerned about Mrs. DeVos’ vision for the federal government’s role in ensuring that our P-12 schools, as well as our colleges and universities, are held accountable to perform well for all students. Because Mrs. DeVos’ answers failed to resolve our concerns based on our fundamental belief in a public education system that works for all kids and communities, we cannot support her nomination.

“In particular, Mrs. DeVos’ testimony was non-committal on whether public schools should be de-funded or privatized. She left confusion as to whether the decades-long federal commitment to serving children with disabilities—the Individuals with Disabilities Enforcement Act (IDEA)—should be a matter left to the states. She said that she would re-assess implementation programs under the Every Student Succeeds Act that require states to set uniform accountability standards consistent with federal guardrails. Her expressed lack of commitment to strong federal accountability, unfortunately, also extended to higher education, as she called for a reassessment of federal mandates requiring post-secondary career and technical schools to show effectiveness in preparing graduates for the workforce.

“Outside of her commitment to parental choice, the hearing provided little insight on Mrs. DeVos’ vision for educating the 50 million American children who currently attend public schools. We are strong supporters of choice married with accountability, but as vital as parental choice is, choice alone is not an answer for ensuring the education of 50 million kids.

“In sum, the hearing did little to clarify concerns that progressive reformers have about Mrs. DeVos’ policy commitment to strong accountability and a strong federal role spanning the scope of the Education Department’s work, from finance equity and teacher preparation to higher education and civil rights. We do hope that at some point Mrs. Devos will speak more expansively about her vision for all public schools and the federal role in ensuring our schools work for our kids. But based on the record before us, we cannot support her nomination.

“In expressing these concerns, we nonetheless recognize that should Mrs. DeVos be confirmed, we would seek to work with her where can find common ground and push her to ensure a strong federal role in ensuring children are educated well. On issues of infrastructure investments in building new schools, spurring innovation in teacher preparation, increasing the number of low-income college graduates, and expanding high-quality in-district and public-charter school options, we would welcome the opportunity to resolve differences, pursue common ground, and to find solutions that work for students. But while we respect Mrs. DeVos’ lifelong dedication to children, our strong policy differences on fundamental matters preclude us from supporting her nomination.” 

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You can find a note from Shavar Jeffries on the DeVos hearing, here.

Contact: Takirra Winfield Dixon — takirra@dfer.org, 202-854-9624