President Trump has nominated billionaire school privatization advocate Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education, a position that has far-reaching consequences for students in Maryland schools. During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee (HELP), Mrs. DeVos displayed a stunning lack of knowledge about basic education policy, and a complete conflict with the core Maryland values of public education, student safety, and the full protection of students with disabilities. Mrs. DeVos was voted out of the HELP Committee Tuesday on a strictly partisan vote.
As the full Senate nears debate on her nomination, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) and Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller issued the following joint statement, standing with Maryland families in opposition to Betsy DeVos’ confirmation:
“Mrs. DeVos is a historically unqualified nominee for this critical position that will greatly impact Maryland students and families. During her confirmation hearing, she displayed a stunning lack of knowledge of education policy and law—including basic provisions of a new school accountability law that she would be tasked with overseeing. She refused to oppose President Trump’s dangerous campaign promise to allow guns in our schools, putting our students in harm’s way in the very classrooms where they learn. She was incredibly uniformed on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and refused to commit to enforcing the law’s federal civil rights protections for students with disabilities at nonpublic schools, even if those schools receive taxpayer funding.
“Each day, parents of nearly 880,000 students across Maryland entrust Maryland public school teachers and education professionals to provide the highest-quality education for all students. We have listened to the concerns from tens of thousands of parents across our state and we join them in thinking that Mrs. DeVos would not provide the same level of commitment to our children as Maryland teachers provide on a daily basis. Mrs. DeVos’ enthusiastic support to provide federal taxpayer dollars for school voucher programs will take away much needed federal support for local school districts that underwrite the extra supports for Maryland’s 193,000 low-income children are academically successful and the 100,000 children with disabilities across our state receive a free appropriate public education.
“Our state needs state and federal leaders who will stand up to President Trump when his actions are wrong for Maryland families. There is no question that Betsy DeVos’ appointment to this important position warrants such vocal opposition. Mrs. DeVos is an unacceptable leader for our country’s schools and we are proud to stand with thousands of Maryland students, teachers and parents in opposing President Trump’s dangerous appointment for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.”