U.S. senators had the opportunity last week to interview Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos in five minute intervals.
During her confirmation hearing, much was revealed about DeVos’ positions on various education issues, but who is Betsy DeVos?
Background & Experience
DeVos is a business-woman and philanthropist from Holland, Michigan and holds a degree in business administration and political science from Calvin College.
According to DeVos’ website and NPR, DeVos is an advocate for children. She and her husband founded the West Michigan Aviation Academy charter school in 2010, and DeVos also serves as chairwoman for the board of the American Federation for Children and as a board member for the Foundation in Excellence in Education.
Her website states she’s an advocate for charter schools and school vouchers, which is where low-income families can use public funding to send their children to a school that uses private funding such as a charter school.
DeVos is against Common Core and, although she’s been involved in groups that support Common Core, that’s “not her position.”
On her website, DeVos declines to go into detail on her positions on specific education policies saying, “… Out of respect for the United States Senate, it is most appropriate for me to defer expounding on specifics until they begin their confirmation process.”
The decision not to discuss what her positions are seemed to follow her onto the Senate floor where her confirmation hearing answers were vague and met with concern from Democrats.
When Sen. Bob Casey asked DeVos what she plans to do about the issue of rape on college campuses, she said it would be “premature” to commit to keeping the 2011 Title IX policy that regulates the way public universities treat and investigate sexual assault.
Sen. Tim Kaine questioned DeVos asking if she believes that schools that receive federal funding should have to abide by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which is a federal law that requires public schools to provide students with disabilities with a quality education. She said, “I think they already are.”
After going back and forth and veering off track about a school voucher program in Florida, a frustrated Kaine asked her the original question again.
DeVos’ final response was, “I think that is certainly worth discussion.”
Later on, Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire brought up IDEA again and DeVos revealed she may have confused the act with something else.
After witnessing DeVos’ confirmation hearing, Democrats and others across the country have expressed concern that DeVos is grossly unqualified to serve as Secretary of Education. Democratic senators requested a second hearing to be held.
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander denied Democrats’ request and posted a lengthy message on his Facebook page Tuesday defending DeVos and reprimanding Democrats saying, “Even though they disagree with her, Democrats should also promptly confirm Betsy DeVos. Few Americans have done as much to help low-income students have a choice of better schools.”
The full video of her confirmation hearing can be viewed at http://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/nomination-of-betsy-devos-to-serve-as-secretary-of-education.