Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, emerged from her confirmation hearings with Republicans praising her commitment to school choice and with Democrats voicing concerns over what they see as a lack of experience to ensure equity for students of all backgrounds and abilities.
During the hearings, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) did not back down as he repeatedly asked DeVos to address yes-or-no questions about a variety of education issues, including the Individuals with Disabilities Act–a key federal law that allocates federal funding to schools to ensure the needs of students with disabilities are met.
Kaine and DeVos sparred over the matter of whether all schools–public, public charter or private–should be required to meet IDEA requirements if they receive federal funding.
DeVos also raised Democrats’ eyebrows when she refused to give clear-cut answers about whether schools receiving taxpayer funds, including public schools, private schools or public charter schools, should adhere to the same and equal performance benchmarks.
“Do you not want to answer my question?” Kaine asked.
“I support accountability,” DeVos replied, but she stopped short of agreeing that all schools receiving taxpayer support should adhere to the same accountability.
(Next page: Strong reactions from both sides)