January 09, 2017

Sen. Warren Raises Concerns about ED Secretary-Designate's Experience, Positions, and Priorities

Text of the letter available here (PDF)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent a 16-page letter to the U.S. Department of Education Secretary-Designate, Betsy DeVos, raising questions about DeVos' experience, positions, and priorities. This letters comes in advance of DeVos's confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

"There is no precedent for an Education Department Secretary nominee with your lack of experience in public education," wrote Senator Warren. "While past nominees for Secretary of Education have served as teachers, school system leaders, and governors, and came to the Department of Education with deep executive experience in public education, you have held no such position. As such, your nomination provides the Senate and the public with few clues about your actual policy positions on a host of critical issues."

The letter indicates that a staff review of DeVos's record reveals that the Secretary-Designate's policy agenda has been advanced largely through the use of large political donations. "You and the organizations you led have also spent millions to promote policies that send more public funds to for-profit and virtual charter schools with no accountability for how well these schools serve students or how these taxpayer dollars are spent," Senator Warren wrote.

The letter also raised concerns about DeVos' "paper-thin record on higher education and student debt." The senator wrote, "The next Secretary of Education must have the experience and expertise to effectively manage the student loan program with the best interests of students in mind. This means advocating for policies that protect students from Wall Street's and the federal government's attempts to make more money off them, and policies that push down college costs for students, and cut the cost of borrowing from the federal government for new and existing borrowers."

Additionally, the senator listed priorities for the next Secretary of Education throughout the letter. "America's students and their families need a Secretary of Education who will support public education, hold states and schools accountable for providing quality programs, protect the civil rights of all students, and meaningfully address the student debt and college affordability crisis," wrote Senator Warren. "The next Secretary of Education must work to ensure adequate federal funding for public education, hold accountable all schools that receive taxpayer dollars - from charter schools to for-profit colleges - and ensure that they are delivering a world-class education for our students."

The letter requests that the Education Department Secretary-Designate provide answers to a series of questions about the senators' concerns

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.