Eli Broad to U.S. Senate: Don’t Confirm Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary
February 1, 2017
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer:
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee vote yesterday to refer President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to the full Senate for confirmation was surprising and disappointing. I am writing to urge you to vote against Mrs. DeVos’s confirmation.
Like many Americans, including public school educators and parents, I watched the committee’s confirmation hearing with dismay. While I have never met Mrs. DeVos, she undoubtedly is kind and well-intended and cares deeply about children, as evidenced by her philanthropic work. However, these personal characteristics do not qualify someone for the massive responsibility of overseeing the education of our nation’s students.
I am a big believer in high-quality public schools and strong accountability for all public schools—traditional and charter. Before Mrs. DeVos’s hearing, I had serious concerns about her support for unregulated charter schools and vouchers as well as the potential conflicts of interest she might bring to the job. Her testimony not only reinforced my concerns but also added to them. I now also question her ability to enforce key provisions of the range of federal statutes entrusted to this role. Indeed, with Betsy DeVos at the helm of the U.S. Department of Education, much of the good work that has been accomplished to improve public education for all of America’s children could be undone.
At the risk of stating the obvious, we must have a Secretary of Education who believes in public education and the need to keep public schools public. We must have a Secretary of Education who will vigorously defend the rights of all students to have safe, fair and equitable learning opportunities and who recognizes the critical role of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. And after far too many school shootings in this country, we must have a Secretary of Education who believes guns have no place in our schools.
In short, I believe she is unprepared and unqualified for the position. As someone who is deeply committed to the belief that all children deserve access to a strong public education, I hope you will join me in opposing Mrs. DeVos’s confirmation.
cc: All U.S. Senators