What Betsy DeVos' Nomination Means for Women and Girls on Campuses and in Classrooms
This week, the Senate held the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-Elect Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education. During the course of the hearing it became clear that DeVos – who has never attended a public school, taught in a classroom, or served on a school board – is woefully unprepared to serve as our nation’s Secretary of Education. Particularly troubling were her responses to questions about the rights of students with disabilities, and what steps she would take to protect the one in five women who will be victims of sexual assault during their time at college and women ages 18-24 who are college students are three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence.
DeVos would not commit to enforcing current Title IX guidance to protect student victims, keeping guns out of schools, or preserving funding for public education.
Cosmopolitan// Helen Jung
Betsy DeVos faced senators on Tuesday at her confirmation hearing before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. It was the only time President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education will be questioned publicly prior to the vote next week. The 59-year-old billionaire Republican donor lacks any experience working in education but has pushed for voucher programs for over 20 years. During her hearing, DeVos revealed gaps in her knowledge about education policy and laws, prompting some on social media to say that it was like a job interview gone wrong. Here were some of concerning moments from the proceedings.
Teen Vogue // Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy
FIRE has also historically offered representation to students accused of campus assault — but not the survivors of assault — as a means of guaranteeing those individuals fair representation during the adjudication process. Which is why when DeVos was asked about upholding “that 2011 Title IX guidance as it relates to sexual assault on campus,” her answer was pretty shocking: “Senator, I know that there's a lot of conflicting ideas and opinions around that guidance — and if confirmed I would look forward to working with you and your colleagues and understand the range of opinion and understand the issues from the higher-ed institutions that are charged with resolving these and addressing them and I would look forward to working together to find some resolutions,” DeVos said. When Casey pushed DeVos for a yes or no answer regarding whether or not she would uphold the 2011 guidance, she replied, “It would be premature for me to do that today.”
BuzzFeed News//Tyler Kingkade
Betsy DeVos would not commit in a Senate hearing Tuesday to keeping federal rules in place for how schools must address sexual violence if she’s confirmed as secretary of education, or that she wouldn’t scale back federal Title IX investigations. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) used all of his time during a Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee hearing to ask DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, about what she’d do to address campus rape.
VOGUE// Patricia Garcia
On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate began the confirmation hearing for President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. The appointment of the Michigan billionaire, who has been a substantial donor to the Republican party throughout the years, has been met with some concern, mainly because DeVos has no past government experience nor has she ever attended a public school or university in the United States—important factors if you’re going to be tasked with handling the education of millions of American children.
…DeVos confirmed that she’s never attended a public K-12 school, nor have her children. She’s also never taught at a public school. DeVos also struggled to answer Kaine’s questions about the federal civil rights laws that requires states to use federal funding to provide special services to children with disabilities. “Should all k-12 schools receiving governmental funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act?” Kaine asked. In response, DeVos said, “I think that’s an issue that’s best left to the states.” Later… New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) asked DeVos if she understood that the aforementioned law was a federal civil rights law. DeVos told Hassan – who, the Post, noted has a disabled son – that she “may have confused it.” Further, DeVos told Kaine only “I support accountability” when asked if she thinks all schools that receive federal funding – whether public, public charter or private – should be held to the same accountability standards.
They worry that a woman who doesn't seem to support the very concept of public education may not be the best person to head the department that controls it. DeVos has never taught in a public school or been on staff at one. Her children have not gone to public school. She is not only a fierce advocate of the charter-school movement, but a proponent of school-choice voucher programs, which redirect precious federal dollars from public schools to private and charter schools.
VICE News//Christina Sterbenz
To start, when asked for her thoughts on using test scores as a measure of student proficiency or growth by Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken, DeVos didn’t seem to understand the difference, much less provide an informative response about which she would prioritize as head of the Department of Education.
Proficiency, achieved when a student reaches a specific benchmark in a subject, differs from growth, which measures a student’s progress in a subject. The debate is a common one in the education community and plays into schools’ ability to receive federal funding because legislation, such as the No Child Left Behind Act, often emphasizes proficiency.
BuzzFeed News//Molly Hensley-Clancy
Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, weathered an unusually contentious confirmation hearing Tuesday night, where she stumbled over several basic questions about education policy and denied she served on a board of a private foundation that donated to anti-LGBT causes, despite years of tax filings that indicated otherwise. DeVos, a Republican megadonor who has worked for decades to expand school choice, said she would wanted to end “one-size fits all education,” steering taxpayer money away from traditional public schools and into charter schools, as well as private schools, religious schools and online charters.