New York- Today, as the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) voted 12 to 11 to support the nomination of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education, the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) and allies across the country continue to urge Senators to oppose her confirmation as it goes to the full Senate floor for approval.
As a national coalition of students, parents, educators and advocates across 27 states and Washington D.C., DSC opposes her confirmation as a threat to students’ human rights and to our public education system. Ms. DeVos’ support for privatization of public education is dangerous and will be detrimental to the lives of students and their families. During her confirmation hearing on January 17, she refused to commit to hold all schools receiving federal funds–whether they are charter schools, private schools or public schools–accountable to the same standards. As we mentioned in a previous statement, Ms. DeVos supported a ballot initiative in Michigan to change the state constitution to allow taxpayer money to follow students to private schools and is on the board of organizations that support private school vouchers and expansion of charter schools.
It is critical that the U.S. Secretary of Education hold states and districts accountable for providing quality education and combating the school to prison pipeline. Yet in response to a written question from Senator Kaine, DeVos wrote that she would “defer to the judgement of state and local officials” to address racial disparities in school discipline policies. “I do not think the nation’s governors want me to come to their states and tell them what to do,” said DeVos.
In addition, during DeVos’ nomination hearing, the American public witnessed the lack of expertise on education policy from the nominee herself. From unclear positions regarding guns in schools, to a lack of urgency to enforce accountability provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (EESA), we believe that DeVos is unfit to serve families in this country. During her hearing she demonstrated her lack of basic knowledge about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides fundamental federal protections for students with disabilities. Not only is she unfit, but a danger to our most vulnerable students, those with disabilities, students of color, LGBTQ students and immigrants.
As a coalition fighting for the human right to education for all students, we will continue to hold our federal government accountable for supporting quality public schools and upholding civil rights protections for all students across the nation.