District officials disagree with DeVos appointment
The U.S. Senate has confirmed school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as Education secretary, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote.
Two Republicans joined Democrats in the unsuccessful effort to derail the nomination of the wealthy Republican donor. The Senate historian said Pence’s vote was the first by a vice president to break a tie on a Cabinet nomination.
Democrats cited her lack of public school experience and financial interests in organizations pushing charter schools. DeVos has said she would divest herself from those organizations.
Longview ISD's primary concerns are Betsy DeVos' record of supporting for-profit charter schools and taxpayer-funded voucher programs. Mrs. DeVos has a long and well-documented history of attempting to undermine public education, while promoting the privatization of schools.
Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox said the issue goes above and beyond party lines or political affiliation, but doing what’s right for the nation's children "and our children deserve better than this."
“Our Secretary of Education must focus on what’s in the best education interest of all children in this country," he said. "All children deserve access to the best public education possible. I just don't see how redirecting tax dollars into for-profit charter and private schools is a benefit to the majority of children in the United States."
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jody Clements said he is concerned that DeVos lacks an appreciation for the challenges of public education, having never worked within them or had children who attend public schools.
"You would think that an individual serving in the highest position of an agency like the Department of Education would have some level of experience or expertise in public education. Unfortunately, that's not the case with Mrs. Devos," he said. "The role of Secretary of Education should be a champion for all students in general and public education in particular. We are the front lines for education in this country, so when someone comes in who doesn’t have that experience or qualification, it makes you wonder how they’re going to look out for all children: children with disabilities and the countless economically-challenged families for whom shopping around the best charter or private school simply is not an option."
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called DeVos "the most ideological, anti-public education nominee" since the position became a cabinet position.
The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union called DeVos’ school-vouchers advocacy "misguided" and said that "she has ardently supported the unlimited, unregulated growth of charter schools in Michigan, elevating for-profit schools with no consideration of the severe harm done to traditional public schools."