Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The DeVos Hearing, In Their Own Words : NPR Ed : NPR

The DeVos Hearing, In Their Own Words : NPR Ed : NPR:

The DeVos Hearing, In Their Own Words

After Betsy DeVos' Senate confirmation hearing yesterday — all three hours and change — we know a little more about Donald Trump's pick to be the next education secretary.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, DeVos faced questions on a range of issues, from private school vouchers and charter school oversight to guns in schools.
We've reported extensively on DeVos' background, her advocacy in Michigan and on the research behind school choice.
Below, we've pulled out some of the highlights from her hearing (with a little context where needed):
Local Control
"President-elect Trump and I know it won't be Washington, D.C., that unlocks our nation's potential, nor a bigger bureaucracy, tougher mandates or a federal agency. The answer is local control and listening to parents, students, and teachers."
This came from DeVos' opening remarks, and succinctly captures her education philosophy: Limit the role of government in America's schools and trust that the free market — and parent choice — will lead to innovation and improvement.
Privatizing Public Schools
DeVos' faith in the free market led to several tense exchanges, including this one with the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington:
Murray: "Can you commit to us tonight that you will not work to privatize public schools or cut a single penny from public education?"
DeVos: "Senator, thanks for that question. I look forward, if confirmed, to working with you to talk about how we address the needs of all parents and all students. And we acknowledge today that not all schools are working for the students that are assigned to them. And I'm hopeful that we can work together to find common ground and ways that we can solve those issues and empower parents to make choices on behalf of their children that are right for them."
Murray: "I take that as not being willing to commit to not privatizing public schools or cutting money from education."
DeVos: "I guess I wouldn't characterize it in that way."
Murray: "Well," she said, laughing, "OK."
Ideology Meets Legal Reality
The committee's chairman, Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican and former education secretary himself, asked DeVos whether she would try to push school vouchers onto states even though the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, does not include or allow it.
"No," she answered. "I would hope I could convince you all of the merit of that in maybe some future legislation, but certainly not any kind of mandate from within the department."
Former senator — and former Democrat — Joe Lieberman introduced DeVos at the hearing. He has worked with her as a board member of her school choice advocacy group, The American Federation for Children. DeVos has never taught in, managed or The DeVos Hearing, In Their Own Words : NPR Ed : NPR:

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