Photo credit: Michael Vadon | Flickr

Born billionaire Betsy Devos has been trying to starve public education for decades and she's been extraordinarily successful at it. Her family's big money has enabled her to ram through her agenda in her home state of Michigan, leading to the biggest funding drop of all the fifty states over the last two decades with an explosion of for-profit charter schools that has helped make the state's schools the second most segregated in the nation, trailing only Mississippi.

As Secretary of Education, she's trying to bring this agenda to the nation, proposing budget cuts to education that were even too severe for a GOP Congress. While she's emboldened usurious lenders, she's abandoned the trans kids' basic rights and fought to make it easier for sexual predators get away with abuse.

Betsy DeVos taking over the Department of Education was the greatest victory for those who seek to starve and re-segregate our public schools. But it could also be its demise.

Help us fire Betsy DeVos and rebuild public education.

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Betsy DeVos’s confirmation hearing proves she’s unqualified, dangerous, and out of her league. PLUS: GRIZZLIES!!!

It’s unmistakably clear that Republicans are doing everything they can to protect their corporatist benefactor Betsy DeVos from having to face any sort of real scrutiny in her bid to become the nation’s Secretary of Education.

  • They scheduled her confirmation hearing BEFORE the U.S. Office of Government Ethics had released its report on her so that she can’t be questioned about the millions of dollars her family has given to Republicans (including many who will vote on her confirmation) as well as the over $5 million in fines she still owes the state of Ohio for campaign finance violations.
  • The meeting was held at 5 p.m. (it actually started at 5:15 p.m.) so that it was difficult for people to watch and difficult for media outlets to make evening news deadlines.
  • The hearing lasted just over three hours with only one round of questioning (during the confirmation hearings for Rex Tillerson and Jeff Sessions last week, there were three rounds.)
  • To top it all off, Republican Committee Chair Lamar Alexander only allowed each Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee member five minutes (normally they get at least ten minutes.)

Just to be sure that Ms. DeVos faced the least amount of time answering questions, Sen. Alexander spent upwards of 30 minutes of the abbreviated confirmation hearing explaining why he was limiting the time for questioning.

Despite all of this shielding and protection from her Republican puppets supporters, DeVos’s performance was an absolute train wreck, highlighting what we here at Eclectablog and so many others around the country have been saying: Betsy DeVos is not only entirely unqualified to be the Sec. of Education, she’s a danger to public education.

Here are some highlights.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren led DeVos down a series of questions showing how she has no qualifications for heading up such a large department responsible for things like the entire federal college loan program:

Sen. Al Franken’s questioning revealed that DeVos apparently has no knowledge of a major discussion happening in the realm of education these days: whether or not students should be judged by “proficiency” or “growth”:

Questioning from Sen. Maggie Hassan, the mother of a disabled son, revealed that DeVos isn’t familiar with a well-known federal program related to the education of disabled students known as the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA):

When asked by Sen. Bernie Sanders about how much money her family has given to Republicans over the years, DeVos feigned ignorance:

Sanders: Would you be so kind as to tell us how much your family has contributed to the Republican Party over the years?
DeVos: I wish I could give you that number. I don’t know.
Sanders: I have heard the number was $200 million. Does that sound in the ballpark?
DeVos: Collectively? Between my entire family?
Sanders: Yeah, over the years.
DeVos:“That’s possible.

Tim Kaine, try as he might, was unable to get Ms. DeVos to commit to hold ALL schools to the same level of accountability that she seems to reserve only for traditional public schools:

Kaine: If confirmed, will you insist upon equal accountability in any K-12 school or educational program that receives taxpayer funding whether public, public charter or private?
DeVos: I support accountability.
Kaine: Equal accountability?
DeVos: I support accountability.
Kaine: Is that a yes or a no?
DeVos: I support accountability.
Kaine: Do you not want to answer my question?
DeVos: I support accountability.
Kaine: Let me ask you this. I think all schools that receive taxpayer funding should be equally accountable. Do you agree?
DeVos: Well they don’t, they are not today.
Kaine: Well, I think they should. Do you agree with me?
DeVos: Well, no.

Sen. Chris Murphy, however, elicited the most head-shaking utterance of the day from Ms. DeVos:

Murphy: Do you think guns have any place in or around schools?
DeVos: That is best left to locales and states to decide. If the underlying question is
Murphy: You can’t say definitively today that guns shouldn’t be in schools?
DeVos: I will refer back to Senator Enzi and the school he was talking about in Wapiti, Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the schools to protect from potential grizzlies.

We are so screwed.

[CC image credit: Keith A. Almli | Wikimedia Commons]

 
 
 

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