Feb 07 2017
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today voted against Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. Feinstein released the following statement:
“I do not think Betsy DeVos is the right person for this very important job.
As you know, I have been a long and proud supporter of our education system. I have supported public, charter, private and magnet schools across the great state of California. I have always supported a parent’s right to choose the right school for his or her child, and I have always believed that different models of schools provide students with more individualized experiences that are tailored to meet their needs and how they best learn and are enabled to succeed.
While Mrs. DeVos is also a proponent of school choice, I believe we have very different philosophies on this issue. Personally, I can only support schools when there is accountability. Schools should be accredited, well managed with proper fiscal controls and transparent in regard to student performance for all of the students they serve.
We owe it to our parents and students to protect their right to access a high-quality education. We owe it to our teachers to provide them with the resources and leadership they need to become master educators.
Mrs. DeVos has never worked in the classroom or as a school administrator, and during the Senate committee hearing on her nomination, she clearly showed she does not have a firm grasp of basic tenets of education policy or program implementation. Mrs. DeVos and her family have been longtime donors to efforts to expand unregulated school choice. Their financial efforts prevented accountability efforts to go into effect that would have provided regulation over the proliferation of the for-profit charter schools throughout Michigan.
Additionally, I found it troubling that during Mrs. DeVos’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Health Education and Pensions Committee, she testified that she would support the repeal of the Gun Free School Zones Act, which bans guns in schools.
Mrs. DeVos cited that grizzly bears in Wyoming is one legitimate reason why guns should be allowed in schools. Yet, the vast majority of our nation’s schools face zero threat of an attack from grizzly bears that would justify the risk of allowing guns on their premises.
Throughout my career, I have been a strong supporter of gun free school zones. And educators, parents, and students—who are all directly affected by this law—support gun free school zones. I find it problematic that Mrs. DeVos makes light of this issue and would go along with the president’s opinion on this issue, considering we had 15 school shootings throughout 2016.
Mr. President, the Secretary of Education serves in a very important role. The secretary ensures that all of our nation’s students have equitable access to a high-quality education. They ensure that students’ civil rights are protected under federal law and that schools are held accountable for the performance of all students regardless of socio-economic status, language barrier or disability.
My colleagues and I have an opportunity to stand up for our children by opposing Betsy DeVos and demand that the president put forward a highly qualified candidate that can best serve our students, parents and teachers in this important role.
I would also like to mention that I have heard from over 96,000 of my constituents, whether they left comments with my staff or wrote me a letter, explaining why Mrs. DeVos was an unacceptable candidate for Secretary of Education. I heard you all loud and clear, and I want you to know that I am here to serve you and I will continue to be your voice.”