Sen Warren Warns Against Trump’s Anti-Public Education Nominee
Ahead of the flurry of confirmation hearings on president elect Donald Trump’s picks for his cabinet the Republicans are trying to squeeze into a few days, Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote a 16 page letter to Besty DeVos, the nominee for secretary of education, questioning her credentials and pointed out her lack of experience with public education.
Warren wrote in part: “There is no precedent for an Education Department Secretary nominee with your lack of experience in public education. 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 senator from Massachusetts has repeatedly called DeVos out for having an agenda to install charter schools using tax payer funding while defunding public schools. DeVos has a history of taking funding from hard right conservatives who want to see government spending on charters instead of public education.
Warren wrote that DeVos and the organizations she’s “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.”
Due to DeVos’ entanglement with hard right conservatives and financial investments in charter education, there is a strong desire by democrats to delay her confirmation.
Among the questions Warren asked DeVos:
• Do you agree with me and with President-elect Trump that it is fundamentally unfair for the federal government to making a profit off the backs of students? Will you support reducing the interest rates on federal student loans?
• Do you believe there is statutory authority to re-privatize the student loan program? If so, where is this authority? If not, will you oppose efforts by Wall Street lobbyists to pass legislation that privatizes the student loan program? Do you support calls from student loan industry lobbyists to auction off the federally-held student loan portfolio? If so, why?
• Will you commit to establishing specific metrics by which you will evaluate how well student loan servicers are keeping borrowers out of delinquency and default, and to holding them accountable to such metrics? Will you establish a transparent process for evaluating the quality of customer service that student loan servicers provide borrowers, which includes evaluating how well servicers are getting student loan borrowers into the repayment and forgiveness programs that are best for them?
• Can you guarantee that every student who is defrauded by a school during your tenure will see every penny of debt relief they are entitled to under the law? Will you commit to granting full debt relief to students who are defrauded by Corinthian Colleges?
Diane Ravitch, education historian for the Network for Public Education (NPE), said of DeVos : “The previous Republican administrations did not threaten the very existence of public education and teachers unions. This coming four years is an existential threat to a basic Democratic institution: public schools. Trump has picked a Secretary who is hostile to public schools. This is unprecedented.”
According to Walter Schaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), DeVos has not been properly vetted , although DeVos confirmation hearing is scheduled for Wednesday of this week.
Out of concern for the hurried way Republicans are pushing for Trump’s nominees to be confirmed, Schaub stated: “I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process.”
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