For Immediate Release:
January 26, 2017
The following letter was sent to Delaware Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and signed by all 25 members of the caucus.
Dear Senators Carper and Coons:
One of the most critical components of our country’s future is the education of the next generation, providing all students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a 21st century economy. Given the importance of education and its connection to our nation’s success, it is with great concern and urgency that we write you regarding President Trump’s nomination and your committee’s consideration of Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. Secretary of Education.
Ms. DeVos is wholly unqualified to lead the U.S. Department of Education. She has no public school experience whatsoever – not as a school administrator, not as a teacher, and not as a school board member. While a career in education is not a prerequisite for this post, it should be a major consideration in determining a person’s qualifications to lead this vital agency.
Our public school teachers work long hours to help prepare their students to be successful, not just in a career, but in life. They are role models, mentors, guides, confidantes, and oftentimes, friends. They deserve far more support than they often receive, and they most certainly deserve a Secretary of Education who will be an advocate for them on a national stage.
Instead, Ms. DeVos has shown throughout the confirmation process and previous words and actions that she would be quite the opposite. Her confirmation as Secretary of Education would set public education back and cause serious – perhaps irreparable – harm to our schools.
Specifically, we are concerned about:
- Ms. DeVos’ lack of knowledge of basic education policy. During a discussion about standardized testing, she was unable to distinguish between “proficiency” or “student growth.” She also did not understand that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law, suggesting that states could choose whether to enforce it.
- Ms. DeVos’ advocacy for private school vouchers. Her support for this cannibalization of our public school funds would leave many schools that already struggle with funding issues in an untenable situation. Beyond that, she also would not agree that all schools – public, charter and private – that receive government funds should be held to the same accountability standards.
- Ms. DeVos’ views on guns in schools. Presented with a straightforward question about whether she opposed having guns in schools, she suggested that there might be a need for firearms due to such instances as rural schools protecting the grounds from grizzly bears.
- Ms. DeVos’ positions on civil rights. The Secretary of Education oversees the Office of Civil Rights, which ensures that students across the country have equal access to a quality education and that school discipline is applied evenly. Protecting students’ civil rights regardless of ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation is critical. However, Ms. DeVos has financially supported groups that oppose such equality and protection.
Teachers, students and parents deserve a Secretary of Education who will push for the improvements necessary to strengthen our public education system, not weaken it. They need someone who will be a strong advocate for successful public schools, not someone looking to divert critical funds through school vouchers. And they need a leader who is qualified to make informed decisions, not someone who lacks knowledge of basic education policy. For these reasons, we urge you to reject Ms. DeVos’ nomination for U.S. Secretary of Education.
State Representatives Kimberly A. Williams, Sean Matthews, Earl G. Jaques Jr., David Bentz, Stephanie T. Bolden, Debra Heffernan, Sean M. Lynn, Edward Osienski, Charles Potter Jr., Melanie G. Smith, Peter C. Schwartzkopf, Valerie J. Longhurst, John J. Viola, Paul S. Baumbach, Andria L. Bennett, Gerald L. Brady, William J. Carson, James Johnson, S. Quinton Johnson, Helene M. Keeley, John A. Kowalko Jr., J. Larry Mitchell, Michael P. Mulrooney, W. Charles Paradee III, and Bryon H. Short