U.S. Department of Education nominee Betsy DeVos will give her opening statement to Senate HELP Committee members Tuesday afternoon, but she is not expected to mention the Common Core standards reform in that statement.
According to a press release from the Trump transition team, which provides DeVos’ anticipated remarks, the nominee will tell members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about her primary goal of school choice and of bringing high quality education to all children in the United States, regardless of their “income or zip code.”
After being introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut with close ties to the Democrat Party, DeVos will speak mainly about parents’ right to choose the physical environment in which their children learn.
DeVos is expected to say:
Parents no longer believe that a one-size-fits-all model of learning meets the needs of every child, and they know other options exist, whether magnet, virtual, charter, home, religious, or any combination thereof. Yet, too many parents are denied access to the full range of options… choices that many of us — here in this room — have exercised for our own children.
The nominee plans to tell the senators that she and her husband realized, when they had their own children, that other parents who were not as wealthy could not make the same education choices for their children as they could for theirs. She decided to make it her “life’s work” to “do something about it.”
“I share President-elect Trump’s view that it’s time to shift the debate from what the system thinks is best for kids to what moms and dads want, expect and deserve,” she plans to say, adding that she is “a firm believer that parents should be empowered to choose the learning environment that’s best for their individual children.”
“If confirmed, I look forward to working with you to enact solutions that empower parents and students, provide high quality options and spend tax dollars wisely,” she is expected to say.
DeVos will continue that, under her leadership, current federal education laws will be enforced and new laws enacted, while at the same time she says she will advocate for “local control” of education:
We will work together to ensure the Every Student Succeeds Act is implemented as Congress intended — with local communities freed from burdensome regulations from Washington. And I look forward to working with Congress and all stakeholders to reauthorize the Higher Education Act to meet the needs of today’s college students.
President-elect Trump and I know it won’t be Washington, D.C. that unlocks our nation’s potential, nor a bigger bureaucracy, tougher mandates or a federal agency. The answer is local control and listening to parents, students and teachers.
DeVos, who has been criticized by the teachers unions and their supporters for her promotion of school choice and taxpayer vouchers that transfer funds from public schools to private and religious schools, is expected to say America is “blessed beyond measure with educators who pour themselves into students.”
She will continue:
Our nation’s schools are filled with talented, devoted professionals, who successfully meet the needs of many, many children. But even our best schools don’t work for all. This isn’t the fault of teachers, but a reality that all students are unique, learn differently, and excel at their own pace.
DeVos will explain that there is significant “diversity” in “today’s American public education, and that she has “worked with many dedicated teachers who strive every day to help students achieve, fulfill their potential, and prepare them for the global challenges that they will face.”
Touching briefly upon higher education and college affordability, DeVos will emphasize that while college debt cannot magically disappear, transferring that debt to “struggling taxpayers without first addressing why tuition has gotten so high” would be a “mistake.”
The nominee is also expected to say not all students should pursue a four-year college education.
“President-elect Trump and I agree we need to support all post-secondary avenues, including trade and vocational schools, and community colleges,” she plans to say, adding, “Of course, on every one of these issues, Congress will play a vital role.”