Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Federal

Nearly 250 Education-Related Groups Urge Senators to Reject Betsy DeVos

By Andrew Ujifusa — January 30, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Well over two hundred national, state, and local groups working in education have signed a letter urging U.S. senators to reject Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of education.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which previously announced its grave concerns about DeVos, issued the letter Monday, one day before the scheduled Senate education committee vote on DeVos’ nomination.

The American Federation of Teachers, the Children’s Defense Fund, GLSEN (which advocates on behalf of LGBT students), the NAACP, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals are among nationwide groups to register their official opposition to DeVos. State and local groups to weigh in against DeVos include the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the Florida Association of School Social Workers, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the Urban League of Greater Atlanta.

“She has never been an educator or worked directly with children and families in public schools. She has never led a school, district, or state agency tasked with educating students. She has never been a public school parent or a public school student,” reads a portion of the letter, which was issued Monday. “This lack of experience makes her uniquely unfamiliar with the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s students, families, educators, and schools.”

In a statement accompanying the letter, the Leadership Conference President Wade Henderson said, “Betsy DeVos has failed to demonstrate that she is qualified to do that job or that she understands what the job requires.”

DeVos is the former leader of the American Federation for Children, which backs vouchers and other forms of school choice. During her Jan. 17 confirmation hearing, DeVos denied any prior support for (and says she does not currently support) “conversion therapy” for gays, and stressed that she wanted all children to go to school in a safe, bullying-free environment.

As we wrote earlier today, the odds appear to favor DeVos, because Trump’s fellow Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate, compared to just 48 for Democrats. The GOP also holds the edge in committee seats by a count of 12 to 11.

However, DeVos has plenty of friends as well.

In a Jan. 17 letter, 150 state-level leaders, including state legislators, weighed in to support DeVos. In addition to several school choice groups, 20 Republican governors recently signed a letter saying they would look forward to having DeVos as education secretary. Former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut introduced DeVos at her hearing, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who carries a big megaphone in state education policy debates, has also backed DeVos.

Read the full letter signed by the 248 groups below:

UPDATE: CREDO action, a social change network, said Monday that nearly 1.5 million people have signed an online petition calling on senators to “block and resist Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as secretary of education.”

The petition was delivered to the two moderate Republican senators on the education committee considered most likely to vote against DeVos, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Both hail from rural states that aren’t likely to embrace DeVos’ push for expanding school choice. But both had positive exchanges with DeVos during her confirmation hearing

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal Feds Add Florida to List of States Under Investigation Over Restrictions on Mask Mandates
The Education Department told the state Sept. 10 it will probe whether its mask rule is violating the rights of students with disabilities.
3 min read
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal How Biden Will Mandate Teacher Vaccines, Testing in Some States That Don't Require Them
President Joe Biden's COVID-19 plan will create new teacher vaccination and testing requirements in some states through worker safety rules.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela administers a COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site for at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa.
Matt Rourke/AP
Federal Biden Pushes Schools to Expand COVID-19 Testing, Get More Teachers Vaccinated
President Joe Biden set teacher vaccine requirements for federally operated schools as part of a new effort to drive down COVID's spread.
7 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
President Joe Biden in a speech from the White House announces sweeping new federal vaccine requirements and other efforts in an renewed effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Harnik/AP