President Donald Trump did not signal a strong commitment to students when he chose the lightly qualified Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education.
The billionaire mega-donor appeared likely to be confirmed after a Senate vote along party lines on Friday ended debate on her nomination. That’s such a disservice to America’s children, and not only because DeVos has negligible experience in public education.
She also has supported a group working to make it harder to discipline college students accused of rape on campus and gave vague answers on that issue during her confirmation hearing. That matters especially because it’s the department’s civil rights office that has taken a lead role in responding to Title IX violations, including sexual violence.
This former chair of a school choice advocacy group is not even a good representative of her own cause and comes across as shockingly unprepared, arguing at one point during her hearing that guns in schools are a good idea because they keep kids safe from “potential grizzlies.”
Two GOP senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have concluded that DeVos’ lack of public school experience is a deal-breaker. But Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, himself a former education secretary, repeated the party line that she’ll strengthen public education by “swapping a national school board for what she believes in, which is a local school board.” But it’s hard to imagine someone as fuzzy as DeVos is on the long-running national conversation over testing strengthening struggling schools.
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