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Law Center Updates

Confirmation Hearings: Take Action on the Betsy DeVos Nomination

This is the second in our series of action items to address certain of President Elect Donald Trump’s nominations. Today’s topic is the nomination of Betsy DeVos of Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Secretary of the Department of Education.

What you should know about the nominee:  We oppose Ms. DeVos’ nomination for two reasons. First, she lacks any relevant experience: in the classroom, in running schools, or in managing large, complex organizations. The national leader for public education should have a deep understanding of all of these. Second, to the extent that she has any known connection to public education, it is her advocacy for diverting public dollars away from public schools: either through her promotion of charter schools or through her support for sending public dollars to private, for-profit schools and parochial schools. Even if you believe charters or vouchers provide parents an important option, improving and strengthening public schools is an important duty of the Secretary. Ms. DeVos has never shown any interest in supporting traditional public schools. Assuring accountability for public dollars sent to private providers of education is another vital duty, but in Michigan she actively opposed all efforts to impose accountability on charters. Ms. DeVos has advocated for less oversight of these schools, and Michigan bears the legacy of her advocacy: 80 percent of the charter schools are run by private companies and those schools are some of the least regulated in the country.

For more about Ms. DeVos’ record see: Civil Rights Roundtable Letter and “Trump’s appalling pick for Secretary of Education” by Education Voters of Pennsylvania.

Timing:  The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions has scheduled a hearing for January 17 at 5 p.m. (The committee pushed back its original date of January 11.) Details about the hearings can be found here. The committee presently plans to vote on the nomination January 24.

What you should do:

  • Call your Senators’ offices and ask for the person responsible for nominations.
  • State your opposition to the nomination.
  • Ask your Senator for a commitment to a) vote against the nominee and b) issue a statement explaining that position. (If your Senator has already expressed concern about the nomination or stated an intent to vote against the nominee, thank him or her.)
  • Publish on social media or otherwise the response (or lack of response) you are given.

Pennsylvania’s Senators:

Bob Casey Jr. (a member of the committee)

Senator Casey has issued a statement regarding Ms. DeVos’ nomination. He promises to closely examine her qualifications and pose questions about the need to invest in public education.  He states that he has “serious concerns about Betsy DeVos’ commitment to adequately funding public schools in Pennsylvania and throughout our nation.”

Phone numbers:

Washington, D.C. (202) 224-6324

Philadelphia, PA (215) 405-9660

Phone numbers for other offices: https://www.casey.senate.gov/contact

Pat Toomey

In a Twitter post, Senator Toomey called Ms. DeVos a “champion on school choice” and a “great pick.”

Phone numbers:

Washington, D.C. (202) 224-4254

Philadelphia, PA (215) 241-1090

Phone numbers for other offices: http://www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=home

Other states:

http://www.senate.gov/

Updates from previous posts:

Read: Jeff Sessions: Lawyers Committee Letter of Opposition

Pa. state Senators Haywood and Hughes are holding a press event in opposition to Senator Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, January 11 at 10 AM in the FM Kirby Auditorium at the National Constitution Center.

 

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