Feb 10, 2017

DeVos Confirmed by Historically Narrow Margin

Thank you to all who contacted the U.S. Senate. Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the full U.S. Senate on February 7th by a razor-thin one vote margin of 51-50 and only after Vice-President Mike Pence was called on to break the tie for the first time in  American history.

Jeb Bush and the Establishment wing of the GOP were thrilled with her confirmation, while there was much disappointment from all points on the political spectrum, but especially by the “grassroots education activists from across the country who were looking to Trump to begin the dismantling of the federal education department,” the “constitutionalist base of the GOP,” as noted by Dr. Susan Berry at Breitbart. She reported the comments of several important experts and leaders of that group and their recommendations for now Secretary DeVos:

Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:

DeVos should make it clear that states won’t be penalized in any way if they ditch the Common Core national standards and the aligned tests. She should minimize the federal influence on state education policies any way she can, letting states chart their own courses as they’re entitled to do under the Constitution. She should eliminate the policy of federal bribery and threats to get the states to adopt certain policies. If the federal ESSA law gets in the way of this, or of her winding down the US Department of Education, she should recommend legislative changes to reinstate local control.

Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute:

“The best things DeVos could do to demonstrate a commitment to scaling back federal involvement in education would be to issue ESSA regulations that really leave decisions up to state and local governments, and refrain from endorsing big federal school choice initiatives…The former is the right thing to do no matter what, and the latter would show that she knows that even something demonstrably good—school choice—is not something that Washington is either constitutionally permitted to advance (outside of DC itself, for military families, and on Native American reservations), nor is it wise to extend federal tentacles into truly independent schools.”

Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch and Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition:

Dr. Karen Effrem, president of the Florida-based Education Liberty Watch, tells Breitbart News parents want DeVos to fulfill Trump’s promise to stop Common Core, shrink the federal education department, and protect student data privacy.

“Parents do not want Betsy DeVos to implement the views and philosophy of Jeb Bush, who was soundly defeated because of his support of Common Core and highly regulated school choice,” Effrem asserts, and suggests that DeVos “does everything she can to work herself out of a job by shrinking the USED.”

Additionally, Effrem recommends DeVos “promptly accept any state plans as is her purview under ESSA even if they totally repeal Common Core and defer to parents about opting out of the state tests.”

“At the very least,” she continues, DeVos should also “make sure that any kind of school choice effort coming from DC to the states does not require the states to implement the Common Core/state tests on private or home schools.”

Anne Marie Banfield, parent activist and education liaison for Cornerstone in New Hampshire

“People like Bill Evers, Sandra Stotsky or Peg Luksik have been fighting against the Common Core reforms, supportive of parental rights and understand the problems with the federal overreach we’ve been fighting against,” she says. “Any one of those three would have been a huge improvement over DeVos based on her record of supporting Common Core in the past. Now we have to ‘hope’ for the best when we had the best available for this position.”

At the same time Mrs. Devos was being confirmed Freedom Caucus member and Kentucky Republican was offering a bill, HR 899, that seeks to abolish the USED. In a statement, he said:

“Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn.”

Secretary DeVos said in her first speech at USED:

“I am here to serve – with you. I am committed to working with everyone and anyone – from every corner of the country, from every walk of life, from every background, and with those who supported my nomination and with those who did not – to protect, strengthen, and create new world-class education opportunities for America’s students.”

Let us hope this is more than rhetoric and that she will follow through on that commitment while she is serving as the last US Secretary of Education.

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