As one U.S. senator denounces Betsy DeVos’ record in Michigan, six others are demanding President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Education Secretary untangle the “complicated web of political and not-for-profit organizations” she has spun over her career pushing a corporate education agenda nationwide.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) met Thursday with DeVos, a former head of the Michigan Republican Party who has championed conservative education policies in that state and around the country. Her efforts have been largely successful in Michigan, where DeVos has spent two decades advocating for more charter schools and less oversight.
But investigations by the Detroit Free Press and others have found that work to be detrimental to students—an opinion apparently shared by Stabenow.
“Our conversation reaffirmed my strong concerns about her nomination,” Stabenow said following Thursday’s meeting. “Betsy DeVos and her family have a long record of pushing policies that I believe have seriously undermined public education in Michigan and failed our children. Therefore, I cannot support [her].”
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Meanwhile, also on Thursday, Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Al Franken (D-Minn), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)—all members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee that will consider DeVos’ nomination on Wednesday, January 11—sent DeVos a letter seeking answers about her work as a charter school lobbyist.
Specifically, the letter requests DeVos provide the committee with information about her roles with dark money groups such as the American Federation for Children, which the Center for Media and Democracy describes as one of several “major contributors to the right-wing corporate education reform echo chamber,” and the Great Lakes Education Project, whose “political action committee does the most prolific and aggressive lobbying for charter schools,” according to the Detroit Free Press.
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