4 Lowlights From DeVos’ Congressional Testimony
This week, Betsy DeVos testified before House and Senate subcommittees on Trump’s budget proposal and defended its provisions that would put some of the most vulnerable students at risk. Here are some of the lowlights:
1. DeVos refused to say whether schools should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Washington Post: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was asked repeatedly Tuesday by a member of Congress whether she believes schools should be allowed to discriminate against students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. She did not directly answer.”
2. DeVos repeatedly dodged questions about why her department rescinded guidance aimed at changing school disciplinary policies that disproportionately affect students of color.
Detroit News: “Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, challenged DeVos on why she rescinded guidance on school discipline after the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education found that students of color are suspended three times more than white students. ‘We put into place some requirements that would begin to turn this around, and you rescinded those requirements,’ Lee said… ‘So, this did not amount of quotas. This amounted to providing those tools and guidance to make sure that students’ civil rights are protected.’ DeVos replied: ‘Every community needs to be able to handle their classrooms and discipline in the way that works for them.’”
Washington Post: “DeVos also faced questions about her decision to withdraw Obama-era guidelines regarding student discipline… ‘Are you saying that the problem really is that black children are just more of a discipline problem?’ Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) asked. DeVos sidestepped a discussion of why discipline rates frequently differ by race but said the previous guidance amounts to a quota system for disciplinary action.”
3. For three straight days, DeVos defended the Trump budget eliminating all federal funding for the Special Olympics.
Associated Press: “The Trump administration’s education budget proposal calls for the elimination of $17.6 million in funding for the Special Olympics, amounting to roughly 10 percent of the group’s overall revenue…DeVos said her department had to make ‘tough choices’ on the budget and insisted the Special Olympics should be supported through private donations. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., joined in on the criticism, telling DeVos that ‘this is not about tough choices, this is about you prioritizing your agenda over students with special needs.’”
CBS News: “DeVos Defends Proposal To Cut Federal Funding For Special Olympics.”
NBC News: “When Pocan asked whether she knew how many children would be affected by the elimination of federal funding to the Special Olympics, DeVos said she did not know. ‘I’ll answer it for you, that’s OK, no problem,’ Pocan said. ‘It’s 272,000 kids that are affected.’”
4. Throughout the hearings, DeVos sought to promote her efforts to effectively fund private school vouchers through Trump’s budget.
Washington Post: “DeVos was more enthusiastic in promoting her own chief cause: a $5-billion tax credit plan to help children attend private schools. She refers to the initiative as ‘education freedom.’ The proposal faces long odds for approval, especially in the House, where Democrats are in control. DeLauro dismissed the idea as a ‘tax scheme’ and an ‘unregulated, unaccountable’ effort to fund private school vouchers.”