23 Jan 2017 – After ethics review, Senate postpones committee vote for Betsy DeVos

“Here’s some bullet points and a basic timeline:

•Each senator present was given 5 minutes to address DeVos. (there were maybe 20 senators present, I didn’t count).

•Democrats realized immediately they would not have enough time to ask all their questions and began asking about the committee leader about the opportunity of a second round of questions. Committee chair Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated that no second round of questions would be allowed because it would be “unfair treatment because Obama’s 2 picks before didn’t have a second round of questions”.

•Multiple Democratic senators then cited that all previous committee reviews were given the option of a second round of questions. I believe it was Warren that quoted Committee chair Alexander from previous sessions on the record directly asking if anyone wanted a second round of questions, then she provided counts of the number of senators that had stayed to participate in a second round of questions in multiple previous occurrences. Alexander dismissed that sticking by his statement that having a second round of questions for DeVos would be unprecedented, would be unfair, and would not be allowed.

•Democrats pointed out that all previous appointees had submitted their ethics review documents prior to the hearing so that the senators could review it in advance, and that DeVos had not done that. They wanted to wait until she had provided those documents before asking more questions, and chair Alexander basically said it doesn’t matter, its not a law that she has to do the ethics survey, and she won’t be required to if she doesn’t want to.

•Democrats had a litany of really eye-opening facts and questions that she either flatly denied, refused to answer, or evaded. When presented with a question like “do you think all schools that get federal funding, whether they are public/private/charter, should be subject to the same accountability and performance requirements, she said “I’d leave that to the states” and when repeated the question making emphasis on “federal” she just said “i support accountability” and then refused to say anything else.

•Franken (D-MN) asked specific questions about her thoughts on rating schools and students based on progress/improvement versus arbitrary proficiency standards, and she didn’t understand the difference.

•DeVos’s whole campaign stance is that “parents need to have options to send their kids to the school that is right for their student”. However there was no mention of distance, cost, funding, ability, performance, etc. It was a very similar attitude as “states rights”, basically that the federal government obviously can’t run public schools properly, so as the public schools are shown to be failing, strip their funding so that other forms of school (charter/private) obviously need to be strengthened, and that the states would know what’s best for their schools. It was then pointed out that Michigan charter schools (where she was republican chairwoman) have 17% proficiency rates, so how could she be trusted with the whole nation? she evaded and blamed poverty in Detroit as the reason.

•DeVos has never attended a public school, and none of her kids of family has either. She has never worked at a public school either. She has never led or been involved with an entity with even 1/1000th the budget of the education department.

•Republicans of course praised her, didn’t really ask any questions, except a few generic slow pitch questions like “are you a good pick?” or “do you support equal education opportunities for all students?” of which she of course thanked them for the question, smiled, and said yes. It was oddly creepy, the circlejerking the republicans were doing.

•DeVos never ONCE mentioned anything about what she would do for public schools, other than ensure they were held to accountability standards so that if they fail, they are closed/stripped of funding. ”  ——/u/elislider

Washington Post