Although I’m desperately trying to STOP writing about our newly crowned dictator-in-chief, I MUST object vehemently to his choice of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. How could any parent of a child with special needs remain silent? I’m counting on our New York senators, Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, to vote “No” on DeVos—yet another billionaire who is unqualified to serve in the cabinet—and hopefully twist the arms of a few more Republican senators so DeVos will be rejected. (The last two Senate committees voted 12-11 in her favor, not exactly a ringing endorsement). So far two G.O.P. senators—Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) have said they would vote against DeVos, which would mean that Vice President Pence might have to break a tie in the full confirmation hearing.
According to The New York Times, Senator Murkowski believed that Ms. DeVos had failed to show that she understood how to make public schools successful. “I have serious concerns about a nominee to be secretary of education who has been so involved in one side of the equation, so immersed in the push for vouchers, that she may be unaware of what actually is successful within the public schools, and also what is broken and how to fix them,” Ms. Murkowski said.
Although Senator Collins of Maine apparently respected Ms. DeVos’s “valuable work in education,” she too was concerned about the nominee’s focus on charter schools, as well as her “lack of familiarity “with federal laws protecting children with disabilities.
Here are 10 more reasons to reject Ms. DeVos:
- Advocates for students with disabilities oppose her confirmation because they doubt that DeVos even understands the details of the 1975 federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which guarantees a “free appropriate public education” to disabled students. When questioned by Democrats during her January 17thconfirmation hearing, she responded that states should be able to decide whether schools should follow the law. Later, she admitted that she may have been “confused” about IDEA’s requirements.
- About 2,700 students and alumni of DeVos’s alma mater, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI and more than 345,000 people who have signed a Change.org petition are opposed to her.
- Senate Democrats are investigating whether DeVos answered their questions with plagiarized material. Senator Patty Murray said DeVos’ responses were “copied and pasted from previous statements or simple reiteration of the law and not true responses at all.”
- According to NY Senator Gillibrand, DeVos REFUSED to commit to upholding crucial Title IX guidance, which requires schools to professionally investigate sexual harassment or violence.
- DeVos has donated money to a group that opposed legislative efforts to prevent campus sexual assault.
- DeVos and her husband are the main investors in Neurocore, a dubious group of brain performance centers, where patients with ADHD, depression, anxiety and autism are shown movies which are interrupted when viewers become distracted in an effort retrain their brains. According to The New York Times, a review of Neurocore’s claims of success and interviews with medical experts have suggested its conclusions are unproven and its methods questionable. Neurocore’s results have not been published in peer-reviewed medical journals. “This causes real harm to children because it diverts attention, hope and resources,” said Dr. Matthew Siegel, a child psychiatrist, who co-authored autism practice standards for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
- Democrats, teachers’ unions and liberal protesters are concerned about the DeVos family’s contributions to groups that support so-called conversion therapy for gay people.
- DeVos has been quoted in the past saying that “government sucks” and public schools are a “dead end.” Sounds like she’s given up BEFORE she starts the job.
- When asked if guns belonged in schools, DeVos declined to take a stand. She said states should decide whether guns should be allowed, citing protection from grizzly bears as part of her answer. If that isn’t crazy, I don’t know what is.
- Donating millions to Trump and other Republicans should NOT entitle her to buy a cabinet position.
Tomorrow there may be even more reasons to vote “No” on DeVos. But how many do we really need?