Note from Shavar Jeffries on DeVos Confirmation Hearing

Dear Friends,

As President Obama’s historic term in office comes to an end, we reflect on the great progress we’ve made for kids and communities over the past eight years. President Obama’s educational legacy is historic. Rooted in innovation, accountability, resource investment, and expanded parental options, Secretaries Duncan and King were historic champions for the kind of progressive, choice-expanding, accountability-focused policy agenda that animates our work at DFER.

We believe that access to a high-quality education is a civil right – not a privilege. As a person who lost my mother to gun violence at a young age and whose father was not in the picture, my life, and that of my family, was transformed by the power of education. Like you, we bring this unyielding belief in the capacity of our children to this work, as well as a deep-seated belief in the responsibility of government to ensure educational opportunity is available to all, regardless of race, class, gender, or zip code.

As we sit at the crossroads of an uncertain future with the incoming administration, we are redoubled in our commitment to support good policies that expand opportunity for kids, and to vigorously oppose those that do not. Rooted in this commitment, we cannot support the nomination of Betsy DeVos. We respect Mrs. DeVos’ lifelong commitment to expanding opportunity for kids and reject efforts by some to attack her personally or to assault her character. Our opposition, instead, is rooted entirely in our core values and policy commitments.  Our statement discusses those policy concerns, anchored principally in our concern about the need for a strong federal role in holding schools, as well as colleges and universities, accountable for results, and the federal role in protecting our most vulnerable children, including children with disabilities, from actions that undermine their access to high-quality educational programs. Should Mrs. DeVos be confirmed, we would seek to work with her in those areas where we find common ground, but would push her to reconsider ideas that we find not to be in the best interests of our children.

I cherish our partnership with you in expanding opportunity for America’s students. And I welcome the opportunity to discuss our position in detail or answer any questions you might have. I look forward to our continued work to make the American Dream real for all of our children.


Shavar Jeffries
National President, Democrats for Education Reform