January 26, 2017

Whitehouse Announces Opposition to DeVos Nomination

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, issued the following statement today on the nomination of Elisabeth DeVos to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education:

“Every Rhode Island student deserves the chance to learn and gain the skills they need to get ahead.  The mission of the U.S. Department of Education is to give them that chance.  Promoting quality education for children no matter where they live requires a firm grasp of education policy and experience confronting complex issues.  It requires an understanding that programs like Pell Grants, established by Rhode Island’s legendary Senator Claiborne Pell, often make higher education possible for aspiring college students.  The Secretary of Education needs to understand what the Department can do to help make schools safe for all kids and how vital federal laws support children with special needs.  Our Education Secretary must have this baseline knowledge and background.  Mrs. DeVos’s record and testimony before the Committee show that she does not. 

“Moreover, the brand of ideologically driven education reform Mrs. DeVos has championed is not what Rhode Islanders want.  I have received thousands of letters, calls, and emails in opposition to her nomination, many of them citing the school voucher and privatization agenda Mrs. DeVos and her allies imposed in Michigan.  Rhode Island parents, teachers, and students have seen the poor results of that agenda and do not want it in our schools. 

“I am also deeply concerned with this nominee’s potential conflicts of interest and lack of transparency.  Mrs. DeVos has failed to address these issues, despite numerous requests for information from me and other members of the Committee.  We still do not know the extent of her ties to shadowy organizations designed to shield special interests from public scrutiny or whether she has disentangled herself fully from knotty investments.  She needed to put these concerns to rest with thorough disclosures to us, but she hasn’t come close.

“This is why Mrs. DeVos is wholly unqualified for this role and I cannot support her nomination.”


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