January 31, 2017

Duckworth: DeVos Is Not Qualified to Lead the Department of Education


WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced she will not support the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, citing the nominee's ignorance of important civil rights protections that ensure every student is afforded the right to a quality education, her eagerness to redirect funding away from public schools and her lack of expertise and experience in the education field.

"After reviewing Ms. DeVos' record and recent Senate testimony, it is abundantly clear that she lacks the necessary experience and expertise that every Secretary of Education must possess, coming up short in two particular areas: her commitment to public education and her understanding of our nation's civil rights laws. Both of these issues are personal to me. I would not be where I am today if it weren't for the quality public school education I received - and much of my life today has been made possible by civil rights protections like the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"I am troubled by Ms. DeVos' zealous advocacy for laws that redirect money from public schools towards private schools without adequate accountability. Cutting resources for our public schools is not a formula for success; it robs students of their right to a quality, equitable education. I was also stunned by her apparent lack of knowledge of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - a federal law that requires schools across the nation to equitably educate students with disabilities. And I am troubled by her statement that the treatment of students with disabilities is 'an issue that's best left to the states,' which makes her misunderstanding of the law's premise clear.

"Reasonable people may disagree over education policy but, Ms. DeVos has failed a stunningly basic test, leaving me to conclude that she is not qualified to lead the Department of Education."

Duckworth voted against Governor Rick Perry's nomination to be the Secretary of Energy and Congressman Ryan Zinke's nomination to be the Secretary of the Interior in the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources today. Duckworth will also oppose the following cabinet nominees: Mr. Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State), Senator Jeff Sessions (Attorney General), Mr. Andrew Puzder (Secretary of Labor), Mr. Steven Mnuchin (Secretary of the Treasury), Congressman Tom Price (Secretary of Health and Human Services), Congressman Mick Mulvaney (Director of the Office of Management and Budget), and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (Administrator of the EPA).