Published: Wed, January 11, 2017
National | By Traci Kelley

Opposition grows to Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos, Trump's education nominee

In a scathing memo sent Monday to Donald Trump's pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, Sen. "Her drive to privatize education is demonstrably destructive to public schools and to the educational success of all of our children".

"The job of the Secretary of Education is to advance public education and protect students' civil rights", Wade Henderson, President & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement. Will you support state sovereignty by approving the state plans in line with Mr. Trump's vision of decreasing the federal role in education, or will you exercise federal control by secretarial veto power over these plans? The billionaire, who's spent millions on promoting charter schools and school vouchers in MI, was originally set to have her hearing on Wednesday, along with four other Cabinet nominees. Yet many of those senators received donations from Ms DeVos, her husband, parents and siblings, on the same day, amounting to larger total donations from the family as a whole. Unlike constructing a Mexican border wall as promised by President-Elect Trump, his nominees for attorney general and secretary of education would dismantle the church/state "wall". Democratic leaders had called for the hearing to be delayed until DeVos' background investigation is completed, and she is fully screened for financial and ethical conflicts of interest.

Put simply, I believe in public education. We know that a group she led violated campaign finance law and walked away from a multimillion dollar fine. Consider North Carolina's largest school district, Wake County, which moved recently to shift almost 20 lower-performing traditional public schools to become charter-like schools. Accordingly, the state of OH levied a record fine of more than $5 million against DeVos' group.

Ethics reports for four of the nominees set to face hearings this week, including DeVos, had yet to be made public as of Monday night.

"Eighty-five percent of the students in the United States attend public schools".

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"DeVos is a billionaire who has never worked in a public school, never attended a public school, never sent her own children to public school", said Ravitch.

"Our public schools are one of the cornerstones of our democracy", Ravitch declared.

The nomination of one of the nation's most successful and tireless advocates for children to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education is a wise one.

DeVos' hearing starts Wednesday at 10am.

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