Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The DeVos Vote

Although the HELP Committee narrowly approved the DeVos nomination, opposition is mounting in the disability and civil rights communities. It appears likely that Vice President Pence will have to cast a tie-breaking vote.

At The Los Angeles Times, Joy Resmovits reports on a 24-hour Democratic floor effort against her.
She would be the first secretary of Education since the department was created in 1979 to have never attended public school or to have sent her children to one, the Education Week Research Center found.
Her road to confirmation has been among the bumpiest of any of Trump’s Cabinet nominees. At her confirmation hearing in January, DeVos seemed unfamiliar with some of the basics of education policy. She was unable to distinguish between “proficiency” and “growth,” for example, concepts that are crucial to a major education debate about the fairest way to measure student learning.
Her inability to answer that question became part of a “Saturday Night Live” skit.
DeVos also appeared to not know that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal law that puts all states on the hook for teaching special-needs students — a subject of intense interest to several senators as well as hundreds of thousands of parents with disabled children.
A release from Maggie Hassan (D-NH):
“All public officials – regardless of their party affiliation - should share a reverence for the importance of public education to our country’s success, both now and into the future. And they must show a commitment to enforcing our laws so that all students have the opportunity to succeed. I agree with my colleagues that Mrs. DeVos has not shown a commitment to, or an understanding of, these principles – and that is why I oppose her nomination,” said Senator Hassan today in comments delivered on the Senate floor.
Senator Hassan also highlighted the stories of the thousands of constituents who have reached out to her office expressing fear for what Mrs. DeVos’s confirmation would mean for their families, saying, “Mrs. DeVos’s unfamiliarity with IDEA, her comments on students with disabilities was something my office heard about often from Granite State parents who contacted the office with concerns about her nomination.” [emphasis added]
“Mrs. DeVos also said in her testimony that she believed that compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) should be left up to the states.
IDEA guarantees a ‘free, appropriate public education’ that is individualized to meet the needs of every student with disabilities.

“When Congress first passed IDEA in 1975, though it was called the Education for All Handicapped Children, it came with a promise that the federal government would cover 40% of the cost to educate those with special needs.  Unfortunately, we have not met that obligation, providing less than half of that funding in recent history.

“IDEA is federal, not state, law.  It is federal law that needs increased funding and attention from the federal government.  When this was pointed out to Mrs. DeVos, she said simply that she ‘may have been confused.’  Our children with disabilities deserve a real federal partner that understands the challenges they face and is committed to getting them the resources that they deserve, not a Secretary of Education who is confused about the federal role in education.