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New Teacher Center Urges Senate to Ask Questions About Educator Effectiveness During DeVos Hearing

After a delay of the original hearing, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will be considering President-elect Donald Trump's nomination for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, tomorrow.

During the hearing, it is expected that DeVos, a longtime advocate of the controversial platform that is school choice, will receive significant questioning about her intentions for education in the U.S.

Over a week ago, for example, Senator Elizabeth Warren released a 16-page open letter which included a series of questions she has for DeVos that she will likely not have the time to ask during the hearing.

Warren used the letter to criticize DeVos for her lack of experience while outlining questions for the candidate that asked her about her commitment to following the rules established by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), improving student outcomes, tackling racial and socioeconomic segregation in today's schools and more.

But Warren is not the only person who has come forward to express concerns by releasing questions for DeVos to answer during the Senate's review.

Most recently, Liam Goldrick, the director of policy for the New Teacher Center, a non-profit that currently coaches and supports more than 40,000 U.S. teachers, has released a series of questions of his own to ask DeVos about her commitment to improving educator effectiveness as Education Secretary.

Goldrick's letter, addressed directly to the senators who will be questioning DeVos, asks the committee to "inquire about the commitment to educational equity and educator effectiveness that Ms. DeVos would demonstrate in her role overseeing our nation's public schools."

Goldrick asked the committee to specifically consider asking DeVos the following questions to determine her level of commitment to educator quality:

  • How will you use the regulatory and rhetorical power of the Education Department to cultivate effective teaching and support our nation's classroom teachers?
  • How can the Education Department work to improve opportunities for even the most promising or effective teachers to improve on the job through rigorous, instructionally focused coaching and mentoring?
  • What is your position on the use of Title I funds to support educational equity in urban and rural schools that teach significant populations of low-income students?
  • What is your position on Title II funding and how it helps to strengthen classroom instruction?
  • What is your position on continued funding for programs like Education Innovation and Research (EIR) that cultivate an evidence base of educational programs and interventions that work?

The Department of Education under the Obama administration released a guidance in September outlining the ways ESSA can be used to elevate the teaching profession; many of those ways include supporting educators, leveraging educator expertise, and providing equitable access to effective educators.

"New Teacher Center recognizes that a continued federal investment in ESSA programs, a strong partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and a set of shared values about the importance of our nation's public school educators is critical to providing equal educational opportunity to every child in America," Goldrick concluded his letter.

According to The New York Times, DeVos will likely face "unusually stiff resistance" throughout the confirmation process although nominees for the position typically "breeze through" the confirmation process with bipartisan approval. 

Goldrick’s letter can be read in its entirety here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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