U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she’s troubled by the record of Donald Trump’s choice for education secretary.
In a letter sent to Betsy DeVos on Monday, the Massachusetts Democrat said DeVos’ advocacy for school choice, charter schools and school voucher programs should raise alarm bells for supporters of public education.
Warren pointed to what she called DeVos’ “deep record of activism, bankrolling and lobbying for policies that would privatize public education” without meaningful accountability.
“Your history of support for policies that would drain valuable taxpayer resources from our public schools and funnel those funds to unaccountable private and for-profit education operators may well disqualify you from such a central role in public education,” Warren wrote.
Warren also criticized what she said was DeVos’ “paper-thin record on higher education and student debt.”
Warren said the next education secretary must continue to help those struggling with student debt and protect them from for-profit colleges offering worthless degrees.
“You have no record or stated position on these higher education issues,” Warren wrote. “In fact the very policies you have spent decades advocating for in elementary and secondary education — more free taxpayer money for private and for-profit education operators with virtually no strings attached — are the exact policies that have caused so many problems and harmed so many students in higher education.”
Warren is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee which will hold a hearing on DeVos’ nomination on January 17. (Editor’s note: watch the hearing streamed live here.)
Looking for a reformer
Trump has praised DeVos “a brilliant and passionate education advocate.”
“Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families,” the Republican president-elect said after nominating DeVos in November.
After Trump made the announcement, DeVos tweeted out: “I am honored to work with the president-elect on his vision to make American education great again.”
DeVos, a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman, leads the American Federation for Children, which along with its state-affiliated PACs contributed to 121 races in 12 states in the general election to support pro-school choice candidates, according to its website.
The choice of DeVos has highlighted Trump’s pledge to make school choice an education priority.
In September, Trump pledged to funnel $20 billion in existing federal dollars into scholarships for low-income students, an idea that would require congressional approval.
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