WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) released the following statement today after the Republicans in the United States Senate confirmed President Trump’s controversial nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, in a party-line vote. Ms. DeVos, having failed to earn the support of a majority of Senators, had to rely on Vice President Pence’s vote to break a 50-50 tie for the first time in U.S. history.
“Betsy DeVos’s confirmation marks a new low in the Republican Party’s drive to dismantle public education. Ms. DeVos made it clear during her Senate testimony that she does not understand crucial debates within the field of education; she cannot differentiate between federal, state and local education policies; she lacks the understanding needed to comply with federal civil rights laws; and she cannot grasp the financial struggles working families have with affordable childcare and the astronomical cost of higher education.
“Very few cabinet nominees in history have proven themselves to be this incompetent in the field they seek to lead. And of those examples, DeVos stands alone in being confirmed despite her flaws.
“So here’s a question every American should ask: at what point would Ms. DeVos have disqualified herself for the GOP? What red line could she have crossed when she’s already proven herself ignorant of the subject matter, and lacks any experience running a government agency? Add to that the years DeVos spent undermining public education in favor of privatized schools for the rich to profit from, and the answer becomes crystal clear: never. Whether Republicans cast this party-line vote to drive a final nail into the coffin of public education, or whether they did it because DeVos is a billionaire heiress who has been contributing to their campaigns for years, the fact remains that they were never going to be deterred.
“The victims of Ms. DeVos’s tenure will be children who have no ability to fight back. But the impact will scar our society as a whole, stunting our ability to accomplish great feats and solidifying the United States as a two tier society: those born into a family that can afford a high-quality education, and everyone else. This is not a vision for American greatness. This is a moment our society will come to regret.
“As a senior member of the Education and Workforce Committee, I will work every day to hold Ms. DeVos accountable to our children. I will join Democrats in opposing any effort to undermine the integrity of our public schools, and I will demand answers for any policy that does not lead our country towards ensuring all students, regardless of their backgrounds, can earn the high-quality education they deserve.”