Home > Uncategorized > Lamar Alexander’s Response to Democrats Request for More Time to Grill DeVos Underscores Democrats DeVos Dilemma

Lamar Alexander’s Response to Democrats Request for More Time to Grill DeVos Underscores Democrats DeVos Dilemma

January 24, 2017

Today’s Politico education feed offered this synopsis of the request made by Senate Democrats to ask Secretary of Education designee Betsy DeVos more questions:

DEMOCRATS LOSE BID FOR A SECOND DEVOS HEARING: Senate Democrats are continuing to press for a second confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, arguing they need more time to question her about her qualifications and potential conflicts of interest. But they’re not going to get one, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Monday evening.

– Alexander rejected a formal request for an additional hearing from the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), other Democrats and Sen. Sanders. Democrats wrote in a letter Monday that “the secretary of Education is too important a position for the country and for this committee to jam a nominee through without sufficient questioning and scrutiny.”

– Alexander said that DeVos has spent considerably more time answering questions of committee members than either of President Obama’s education secretaries, and I do not know why our committee should treat a Republican nominee so differently than the nominee of a Democratic president.

– Democrats have submitted more than 800 written questions for DeVos to answer since her confirmation hearing last week. Alexander said that Republicans asked only 53 and 56 written follow-up questions, respectively, of Obama’s two Education secretary nominees.

I don’t know if it’s true that Duncan spent less time as was asked fewer questions, but Wikipedia indicates that Duncan’s appointment was relatively easy and all news accounts regarding his successor’s appointment indicate that there was minimal pushback when he was confirmed:

Duncan received broad bipartisan support during his confirmation hearing in front of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on January 13, 2009. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said of Duncan, “there is no question that schools across America can benefit from the same kind of fresh thinking that (he) brought to Chicago public schools.

And what was that “fresh thinking“? We saw it embodied in Race to the Top: high stakes tests, punishment for low scores on those tests, closing of “failing” schools, privatization welcomed. OF COURSE “Duncan received broad bipartisan support during his confirmation hearing”… he was doing exactly what the Republican party and the “reformers” wanted him to do. 

Now we have the logical endgame of “reform”, which is deregulated privatization and vouchers… Alas, THIS— the confirmation of Betsy DeVos or someone else who espouses her philosophy— is President Obama’s true legacy for public education.

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