Trump Education Secretary Nominee Delivers Disastrous Testimony in Senate Confirmation Hearing
Betsy DeVos does not agree with the federal law mandating that children with disabilities receive a "free appropriate public education" or that they deserve equal protection in schools. In a stunning and extremely disturbing exchange with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to become Secretary of Education proved herself adept at side-stepping questions and excellent at delivering partial answers but Sen. Kaine refused to allow her tactics to get in the way of his questions.
By the end of Kaine's questioning, Americans learned that Betsy DeVos not only doesn't think children with disabilities deserve equal protection in schools, but that schools, regardless of type - public, private, charter - should not have to meet the same standards of accountability. She also doesn't believe schools should have to report the same information regarding harassment, discipline or bullying.
Add all that to the fact that DeVos is opposed to public schools in general, has made anti-LGBT statements, and she and her family have donated large sums to anti-LGBT groups and causes.
"Do you think K-12 schools that receive government funding should meet the same accountability standards, outcome standards," Sen. Kaine asked, referring to kindergarten through 12th grade schools.
"All schools that receive public funding should be accountable, yes," responded DeVos, a charter schools activist and billionaire who has zero experience with public schools.
"Should they meet the same accountability standards?" Kaine pressed.
"Yes, although you have different accountability standards between traditional public schools and charter schools," DeVos noted.
"But I'm really interested in this: Should everyone be on a level playing field? So public, public charter or private K-12 schools, if they receive taxpayer funding they should meet the same accountability standards?" Kaine responded, digging in deeper.
"Yes, they should be very transparent with the information and parents should have that information first and foremost," DeVos said.
"And if confirmed, will you insist upon that equal accountability in any K-12 school or educational program that receives federal funding whether public, public charter or private?" Kaine asked.
"I support accountability," DeVos responded, clearly attempting to not answer Kaine's question fully.
"Equal accountability for all schools that receive federal funding?" he again was forced to press.
"I support accountability," was Devos' response.
Frustrated with DeVos' repeated refusal to answer his questions , Kaine pointedly asked: "Is that a yes or a no?"
DeVos again repeated herself: "I support accountability."
Kaine, unwilling to play games, asked point-blank: "Do you not want to answer my question?"
DeVos responded, "I support accountability."
Kaine, frustrated with the nominee's disrespect, pushed. "Let me ask you this," he offered. "I think that all schools that receive taxpayer money should be equally accountable. Do you agree with me or not?"
"Well they don't. They're not, today," was DeVos' response.
"I think they should," Kaine said. "Do you agree with me or not?"
"Well no because -" DeVos, cornered, finally stated.
This was how, for over three minutes, the Q&A between Kaine and DeVos went. Here's the rest of the exchange:
Kaine: You don't agree with me. Let me move to my next question. Should all K-12 school receiving governmental funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?
DeVos: I think they already are.
Kaine: I'm asking you a "should" question. Whether they are or not, we'll get into that later. Should all schools that receive taxpayer funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?
DeVos: I think that's a matter that's best left to the states.
Kaine: So some states might be good to kids with disabilities and other states might not be so good, and then what? People can just move around the country if they don't like how their kids are being treated?
DeVos: I think that's an issue best left to the states.
Kaine: What about the federal requirement. It's a federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Let's limit it to federal funding. If schools receive federal funding should they be required to follow a federal law whether they are public, public charter or private?
DeVos: As the Senator referred to -
Kaine: Just yes or no, I've only got one more question.
DeVos: There's a Florida program. There are many parents that are very happy with the program there.
Kaine: Let me state this: I think all schools that receive federal funding, public, public charter or private should be required to meet the conditions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Do you agree with me or not?
DeVos: I think that is certainly worth discussion and I would look forward to.
Kaine: So you cannot agree with me. And finally, should all schools receiving governmental funding be required to report the same information regarding instances of harassment, discipline or bullying? If they receive federal funding.
DeVos: I think that federal funding certainly comes with strings attached.
Kaine: I think all such schools should be required to report equally information about discipline, harassment or bullying. Do you agree with me or not?
DeVos: I would look forward to reviewing that provision.
Kaine: If it was a court I would say to the court, "let the judge direct the witness to answer the question". It's not a court, you're not under oath or you're not under a subpoena, but you're trying to win my vote. Thanks, Mr. Chair.
Before this exchange, Sen. Kaine called DeVos out for having previously said that public schools are a "dead end," and "government really sucks."
Transcript via Augusta Free Press
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