February 07, 2017

Van Hollen Speaks Out Against Betsy DeVos on Senate Floor

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen spoke on the Senate floor to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. An excerpt of his remarks is available below, and video is available here:

"Maryland schools and schools throughout the country deserve a champion in their Secretary of Education. When President Trump and congressional Republicans proposed plans to cut and divert federal education funding, we need a Secretary of Education who is going to fight for public education. Ms. DeVos is clearly not that person.

"Our founders understood - and from the earliest days of this republic, we understood - that a free public education is a fundamental American value. Free public education at neighborhood schools throughout our land has helped make America more productive, broadened opportunity and sustained local neighborhood schools and communities. I share my colleagues' deep concern that Ms. DeVos does not appear to share a commitment to that American idea. She has devoted much of her adult life and career to advancing private educations that would divert resources from our public schools.

"She has shown a lack of awareness -- and in many statements, alarming views -- about our nation's commitment to equal rights for children with disabilities. We cannot retreat from that commitment that we made as a country, and we cannot return to an era when equal rights were just another concern for states to decide on their own.

"We also heard, as Senator Blumenthal discussed, the flippant statements about guns in schools and the safety of our children. We cannot retreat from our determination to keep our schools safe and gun-free.

"And when President Trump has a history of promoting a sham for-profit Trump University, we need a Secretary of Education who will zealously oversee for-profit colleges that receive students with federal student loans and grants. Nothing in her testimony or statements or responses to questions from Senator Murray or others gives me any comfort that Ms. DeVos can be that person.

"Mr. President, education holds the key to a more prosperous America, a better informed electorate, and a society in which the nation's bounty is more fairly shared as more citizens have access to a good education. We cannot advance those goals without a strong Secretary of Education. We cannot leave this job to just happen on its own. We need somebody who's going to fight for those ideals, and unfortunately the record indicates that Ms. DeVos is not that person. So I join with my colleagues in opposing the nomination."