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Over 30 Civil and Human Rights Groups Issue Statement to Future Education Secretary Under Trump Administration

Over 30 Civil and Human Rights Groups Issue Statement to Future Education Secretary Under Trump Administration

33 civil and human rights groups have issued a joint statement addressed to President-elect Donald Trump’s Education Secretary pick Betsy DeVos.

The statement publicizes their mutual concern that DeVos, a staunch school choice advocate and a polarizing political figure in her home state of Michigan, will work against their mission of promoting equality for America's children.

Specifically, the groups worry that DeVos' support of school choice and charter schools will negatively impact millions of U.S. students.

"DeVos' very public support for voucher schemes which siphon away all-too-limited public education funds and fail to provide protection from discrimination and segregation, and her opposition to appropriate oversight of charter schools, run contrary to the department’s mission to 'promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access,'" the groups write.

Overall, the groups believe DeVos has the potential to implement policies that "demonstrate a lack of respect and appreciation for the diversity of our nation's classrooms and fail to recognize a long and pernicious history of discrimination against groups of students."

"While we have heard little of DeVos' record with regard to the rights and interests of English learners, immigrant students, students with disabilities and religious minorities, we are deeply troubled by the unacceptable rhetoric of the President-elect during his campaign and the absence of a record of DeVos' support for these students," they write.

The groups involved in the joint statement include NAACP, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), National Women's Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center and more.

To read the full statement, see here.

These groups aren’t the first to express concerns over Trump's planned nomination of DeVos.

Her lack of experience in a classroom, billion-dollar family name and full support for polarizing conservative school reform policies have caused many teachers and union leaders to speak out.

"If you are confirmed by the Senate to become Secretary of Education (and we hope it doesn’t hurt your feelings that many of us will work to oppose your nomination), we hope that you will work to get to know us," wrote one educator in a scathing open letter for the Huffington Post.

"DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools. The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family's wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation," said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Others are more hopeful about education leadership under DeVos.

Failed presidential candidate and well-known school reform advocate Jeb Bush praised DeVos as "an extraordinary choice."

Senate Education Committee Chairman and Every Student Succeeds architect Lamar Alexander similarly called DeVos an "excellent choice."

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

12/12/2016 

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