Education reformer Betsy DeVos moved one step closer to becoming the next secretary of education on Tuesday when the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions moved her confirmation to the full Senate.
President Donald Trump’s nominee was confirmed 12-11 along party lines following a procedural objection that required a revote.
Senate Democrats pushed for a second hearing, writing in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., that they were “extremely disappointed” by the first one. Alexander refused their request.
Alexander said DeVos had already answered more questions than any education secretary nominee during her three-hour hearing. She also answered 1,400 written questions.
DeVos is a strong proponent of school choice.
“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 said Jan. 17 during her confirmation hearing.
During that hearing, she recalled a Christian school that served low-income children, where she “saw the struggles and sacrifices many of these families faced when trying to choose the best educational option for their children.”
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DeVos has said she does not believe the status quo should remain, having noted “traditional public schools are not succeeding. In fact, let’s be clear, in many cases, they are failing.”
She also supports homeschooling.
“Homeschooling represents another perfectly valid educational option,” DeVos has said. “What you’re seeing is parents who are fed up with their lack of power to do anything about where their kids are assigned to go to school. To the extent that homeschooling puts parents back in charge of their kids’ education, more power to them.”
Although DeVos needs only a majority of the Republican-controlled Senate to be confirmed, a major push against her on the part of teachers unions has led to some liberal GOP senators refusing to telegraph their vote.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who supported DeVos in Tuesday’s committee vote, warned against reading into that as full backing for the nominee.
“Do note, she has not yet earned my full support,” Murkowski said. “I would not advise yet that she count on my vote.”
Likewise, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who supported DeVos in the committee, said she was still on the fence when the full Senate votes.
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