By Jarrod Walley |Staff Writer|
The Senate committee decision for Betsy DeVos’s nomination for Secretary of Education was postponed to Jan. 31, after troublesome hearing for her confirmation.
The hearing for DeVos took place last Tuesday, Jan. 17, before the Senate committee regarding her nomination for Secretary of Education. It was televised and also made available online by Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN).
The Secretary of Education is responsible for—among with other duties—overseeing educational policies, managing Federal Aid banks and distributing millions in Pell Grants. All of these are directly related to federally-funded schools, including CSUSB.
There is some concern in the Senate about whether DeVos is qualified for the position based on how she answered the questions from the committee members. The concern is being notably directed from the Democrat side.
“Should we make public colleges and universities tuition free?” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders asked DeVos. “So, that every family in America, regardless of income, will have the ability to have their kids get a higher education?”
DeVos did not directly respond to the question; she instead replied, “We can work together, and we can work hard, to make sure higher education is more affordable for young people. And I would look forward to that opportunity if confirmed.”
Many of the other committee members’ questions were met with similar answers from DeVos. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine was given unsatisfactory answers to his question regarding equal accountability for federally-funded schools.
“If confirmed, will you insist on equal accountability in any K-12 school or educational program that receives federal funding?” asked Senator Kaine.
“I support accountability,” responded DeVos, to which Senator Kaine responded again, emphasizing the word equal. However, DeVos’ answer had not changed.
In addition to the unfavorable responses DeVos gave, her background is also in question.
DeVos’ resumé in higher education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Political Science from Calvin College—a private institution.
“While I don’t follow politics, I’ve heard a lot of controversy regarding if she is qualified or not,” said student Amber Canchola.
“Personally, I feel like if you are going to be the Secretary of Education, you should have a minimum of a master’s degree. If a college professor is required to have one, why not the Secretary of Education?” added Canchola.
Having been educated solely in private institutions, and having been an advocate for the charter school systems, DeVos has not developed adequate knowledge of the public-school system which her nominated position focuses on.
When asked about what policies he would like to see implemented if DeVos was confirmed, student Matt Soliz responded, “None of the policies she’s been proposing in Michigan.”
“Her focus on private/charter [schools] will leave out students experiencing poverty,” continued Soliz.
DeVos’ lack of sufficient knowledge in the public school systems could hinder her confirmation.
CSUSB and other state institutions are impacted by the decisions and policies the Secretary of Education makes; therefore the nominee needs to be well informed.
The hearings for secretary positions are for the nominees to win the votes of the committee members in order to be confirmed for the position. DeVos’ hearing has generated more questions than it satisfied, causing the committee to postpone their decision.
Chairman Lamar Alexander gave the committee an extra week to submit written questions to DeVos, and for her responses. The day for the committee’s decision for the confirmation or denial of DeVos as Secretary of Education has been extended to Jan. 31.