On February 7, the Senate is planning to vote on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the next secretary of education. Educators and students deserve a secretary who can commit to supporting every student in all public schools, and a leader who will work tirelessly to promote a public education system that provides each child with the ability to learn and prosper. DeVos’ past work and her performance at her recent confirmation hearing has demonstrated neither a depth of experience nor a knowledge base in education, indicating that she is not the candidate that students and educators need.
As an educator, it is vital that you contact your senators and let them know your concerns regarding DeVos. NASSP has created a new action alert that will allow you to do this quickly and easily. Make your voice heard and let your elected representatives know that you support quality public education for all students!
Help Advocate for Your School
Please join us April 24–26 for the 2017 NASSP Advocacy Conference. This conference brings together state leaders to advocate on behalf of the nation’s school principals. Having these leaders converge on Congress and speak in a unified voice delivers a powerful message to legislators that effective principals are vital to student success.
The program consists of panel discussions with representatives from other national education associations, congressional staff, and officials from ED; a briefing on the latest news in Congress and NASSP’s legislative agenda; and a day on Capitol Hill attending meetings with principals’ respective members of Congress and their staff.
There is no registration fee to attend the conference, but travel and lodging expenses may be required. Please contact Zachary Scott with any questions.
Inside the Beltway
What’s Happening in Washington?
Last week, the Senate voted along party lines to limit the debate on the nomination of Betsy DeVos as the new secretary of education. This sets up a final full confirmation vote for DeVos on February 7. Republican senators Murkowski (R-AK) and Collins (R-ME) have already announced that they plan to vote against DeVos’ confirmation, bringing the suspected vote tally to 50-50. If the vote does end up in a tie, Vice President Pence would be brought in to break the tie and could be the final vote that puts DeVos over the top. In an effort to prevent this outcome, NASSP and a number of other education organizations are mobilizing members to try and flip one more Republican to oppose DeVos, thus sinking her nomination.
Why Should Principals Care?
If confirmed, DeVos will have a key role in shaping education policy for years to come. This includes the possible implementation of a $20 billion voucher program that President Trump promised during his campaign. DeVos’ support of school choice and voucher programs is well known, and a wide scale voucher program could be one of her first goals as secretary. Also, DeVos would become the first ever secretary of education to never have attended, worked, or had her children attend a public school. This raises significant concerns, as she will enter the role with a severe lack of understanding of the public education system.
Upon taking office, President Trump halted the ESSA accountability regulations and now it appears he plans on eliminating them altogether. State boards of education will be left to wonder what will be required of them by the federal government as they continue the drafting and implementation of their ESSA plans.
In the Press
Ensuring that students feel safe and secure at school may do more than aid a student emotionally. A new study examined the relationship between school climate and student performance. It found that schools with a better school climate tend to achieve a higher level of academic performance.
The Danger of Voucher Programs for Students with Disabilities, Center for American Progress
Betsy DeVos’ past support of voucher programs has been well documented and many fear that she may try to expand her policies if confirmed as secretary of education. However, vouchers may have a severe negative impact on children with disabilities, if approved. This article examines what is required of schools under IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and points out the problems that many students with disabilities face when dealing with private schools.