An education watch coalition of grassroots parents and other citizens representing 27 states is letting the Senate know its concerns about education department secretary nominee Betsy DeVos.
With DeVos’ confirmation hearing rescheduled to begin January 17, members of Education Liberty Watch have sent a letter detailing their concerns to Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and the committee’s other members.
“This national coalition of grassroots parent and citizen organizations has many questions and concerns about Betsy DeVos,” the group’s president, Dr. Karen Effrem, tells Breitbart News. “Chief among them is her apparent very recent conversion to opposing Common Core when her activist and philanthropic record shows concrete evidence of strong support for the standards over many years.”
While, upon her nomination, DeVos launched a new website on which she stated she is “certainly” not a supporter of Common Core, she has served on boards and funded organizations that have been vocal supporters of the standards.
Additionally, she has been strongly endorsed by former GOP presidential candidate and Common Core promoter Jeb Bush, his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, former GOP presidential nominee and “anti-Trumper” Mitt Romney, former education secretary William Bennett – who received compensation for promoting Common Core among conservatives, the pro-Common Core Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and the Bill Gates-funded Fordham Institute, which has also promoted Common Core.
“There is also great concern about her support of voucher programs imposing Common Core on private and potentially home schools, and extensive student data mining,” Effrem continues. “These concerns are especially acute given President-elect Trump’s encouraging and repeated promises to get rid of Common Core, protect privacy and decrease or eliminate the federal role in education.”
Effrem summarizes the letter and the group’s concerns:
1) From all the evidence we can find, her statement when she was appointed on November 23rd was her very first against Common Core. Her statements and record via organizations that she has founded, funded, chaired, or on whose boards she has served and her political contributions have all been in support of Common Core and pro-Common Core candidates. Her statement and her interview with Donald Trump focused on “higher standards” which is a euphemism for Common Core, even though there is abundant evidence that the Common Core standards are anything but high.
2) Her American Federation for Children group has been strongly in support of state voucher laws in Indiana and Louisiana or federal Title I portability that imposes or would impose Common Core on private schools via the federally mandated state assessments. The education savings accounts that she touts could well place government regulations on home schooling for “accountability” purposes.
3) Although a strong supporter of charter schools, it appears she has never financially supported classical charter schools like the Hillsdale model in her own home state, only charters that require the teaching and testing of Common Core.
4) The Philanthropy Roundtable that she chaired until her appointment put out a report that is strongly in favor of extensive data mining of children without transparency of what data is collected and who receives it or parental consent and never mentions the word “privacy.”
5) We are also concerned about continued expansion of invasive, subjective social emotional learning programs at the federal level and need to know her position on those.
“We strongly urge the Senate HELP Committee to closely question her about these critical issues,” Effrem says.