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Thread: Welcome to our Twitter thread about Betsy DeVos' testimony on Trump's budget to the House. Stop everything else you're doing and follow along!
House subcommittee chairman @rosadelauro blasts away right at Trump's education budget request from the start: "I believe that this budget is cruel, and I believe that is reckless." Asks DeVos how *she* can support this budget.
DeLauro says the $5 billion tax-credit freedom scholarships proposed by Trump and DeVos are "unregulated, unaccountable, and an effort to fund private school voucher programs.”

Here's how they're described by DeVos' Education Department: sites.ed.gov/freedom/2019/0…
DeLauro says the Trump budget approach of "sharply cutting funding in education and training, while claiming that we simply cannot afford it" is way off base; she says she simply doesn't buy it.
"Madam Secretary, I have to say: Shame on you," @rosadelauro
says to @BetsyDeVosED. "You and the president are proposing to abandon middle class families and those families that are in need."
DeLauro blasts the federal school safety commission DeVos led for failing to address the role of guns in school violence, and for her silence on the issue.

"Congress never contemplated that [Title IV] grants would be used for the purchase of firearms," @rosadelauro says.
.@rosadelauro hints of things to come: She says they'll be looking at charter schools down the road, including the possible mismanagement of charter school closures, and the effectiveness of charter schools.
@rosadelauro "This budget underfunds education at every turn," DeLauro says to DeVos.
Now it's time for subcommittee ranking member @TomColeOK04 to address DeVos.

Cole says he is happy to see the Trump budget maintains critical funding for children with special needs and rural students.
Says he does understand the need to consolidate some programs, but worries about shift in TRIO program from a competitive to a formula grant program.
Cole also says he's pleased by the Trump budget proposal to increase federal spending on charter schools.

Charter school is the one big area where Congress has gone along with the Trump team's push for increasing school choice since 2017.
Cole says it's mistaken to believe that Congress is spending a lot more on defense at the expense of non-defense spending, in terms of discretionary spending.
Cole notes that different lawmakers will have different perspectives on this. "We'll come at it from different points of view, and that's okay." The goal, he says, is to produce legislation members can support and Trump can proudly sign.
Full committee chairwoman @NitaLowey: "Secretary DeVos, your budget request does not reflect the reality in classrooms across the country, and if enacted, would cause structural damage to communities across the nation."
@NitaLowey Lowey says the concepts pushed by DeVos of choice and freedom are mirages.

She criticizes the Trump budget's elimination of after-school programs specifically.
@NitaLowey "Not only do you ignore racial and socioeconomic disparities in our education system, you support policies proven to increase the divide," Lowey says.
@NitaLowey On private schools involved in vouchers, Lowey says: "Many of these schools are unequipped to accommodate students with disabilities and English-language learners."
Democrats are hitting DeVos hard on the school safety issue. Lowey says DeVos is supporting policies that make students less safe.
.@NitaLowey says the message from Trump in his budget request is, "Fund the wall with money from our children's schools."
Now @BetsyDeVosED. DeVos says the Trump budget request reflects what the federal government's role should be in education.

"It’s easier to keep spending, to keep saying yes, and to keep saddling tomorrow’s generations with today’s growing debt," DeVos says.
@BetsyDeVosED "Doing the same thing, and more of it, won’t bring about new results. I propose a different approach: Freedom," DeVos says. "This budget focuses on freedom for teachers, freedom for parents, freedom for all students."
@BetsyDeVosED DeVos: Worldwide, we’re still 24th in reading, 25th in science, and 40th in math, after billions and billions of dollars in new education spending
@BetsyDeVosED Because Education Freedom Scholarships would be based on voluntary contributions, DeVos tells the subcommittee, "It won’t take a single dollar from local public school teachers and public school students."
DeVos also talks up the $200 million voucher program for teachers' professional development in the Trump budget: "They treat teachers as the professionals they are."
DeVos also cites the budget request's $200 million for communities to develop school safety plans.
.@rosadelauro zeroes in on waste and fraud among charter schools, asks why DeVos wants $60 million more in federal funding for them.

DeVos says many of these issues predate the Trump administration.
When DeVos says the administration wants more flexibility for charters, DeLauro cuts her off.

It seems charters already have an enormous amount of flexibility, DeLauro says; adds that DeVos must not be asleep at the wheel.
"What we need are more charter schools, not less," @BetsyDeVosED responds to @rosadelauro.

When you experiment, not all schools will "make it," DeVos adds; she says it's important to note when public schools fail.
DeLauro asks DeVos about concerns that her department is not doing a good job of helping states implement #ESSA.
"I’m very proud of the work of the department and the office of elementary and secondary education in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act," DeVos respond.
DeLauro and DeVos get into an argument about whether charter schools are public schools.

DeLauro implies some of them aren't really public schools, DeVos repeatedly replies that charter schools are public schools.
"The most important point of accountability are the parents who’ve chosen to send their child to whatever that charter school is," @BetsyDeVosED says.
Cole says he's pleased with how Trump's budget handles career and technical education.

A new CTE law is perhaps the biggest education law Congress has passed during the Trump administration.
Parents often don't view carer and technical options as valid compared to four-year colleges and universities, DeVos says, but we've got to get beyond that.
Huge job opportunities are there for science and math, DeVos tells Cole.
Before yielding to Nita Lowey, Rosa DeLauro again hits DeVos for what she says is her failure to properly oversee charter schools.
Lowey says she's surprised DeVos wants to cut 21st Century after-school programs given its positive impacts, and asks why, given bipartisan support for it.
DeVos: Actually, the data we have and the funds we have going to after-school work show these after-school programs aren't effective.
"We had to make difficult decisions in the budget," DeVos says. "Remember, they are just proposals to you."

It's true: The Trump budget request is a series of proposals, not the law.
"The funding from the Department of Education has not proven to be effective," DeVos said, when it comes to after-school programs.

Lowey disagrees: "I'd wish you'd give more thought to them."
In this hearing, DeVos has stressed how funding for the most vulnerable students has been prioritized.

She notes that Title I, programs for English-language learners, and others have been flat-funded.
DeVos is again going over the Education Freedom Scholarships proposal; stresses that it works on a voluntary basis.
It gives children opportunities that they haven't had before, DeVos says; contributions are voluntary, nobody's coercing anybody to give.
DeVos highlights Florida's Hope Scholarships program that bullied students can use to transfer and attend private schools. More on those here: edweek.org/ew/articles/20…
.@RepBarbaraLee brings up Steve Bannon's pledge that Trump would deconstruct the administrative state.

In education, Lee says, that means privatizing public education. "It's outrageous," Lee says. "Your cuts here specifically target students of color."
Lee brings up a request she made for an Education Department report on school desegregation.

DeVos says the report is close to done. Lee says: It's been two years, we need to see it.
Next, Lee brings up school discipline, and disparities that negatively impact students of color, asks why Obama guidance was rescinded.
@BetsyDeVosED: No child should be treated differently because of their race, and if they are, our office for civil rights will take action.

@RepBarbaraLee: We had data that they *are* being treated differently, and that's why the Obama guidance was implemented.
@BetsyDeVosED @RepBarbaraLee DeVos: The Obama guidance involved quotas.

Lee: This was not about quotas. This was providing tools and guidance to ensure students' civil rights are protected.
@BetsyDeVosED @RepBarbaraLee DeVos and Lee are talking over each other.

Lee says, Thank God we have Brown v. Board of Education.
@BetsyDeVosED @RepBarbaraLee Note: Lee seemed to refer to the Obama guidance as "orders." Technically, that now-discarded guidance didn't impose new requirements on schools regarding discipline, but its critics said that in practice it was unfairly burdensome to schools.
.@HerreraBeutler asks about the restraint and seclusion of students. DeVos says her department is looking into the issue: "We think this is a really important initiative that we are undertaking without any kind of a mandate to do so."
.@repmarkpocan: Is it OK for a school to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity?

DeVos: We have laws that cover discrimination and our office for civil rights ensures that schools are following the law.
@repmarkpocan Pocan: What are doing to get back $1 billion that was wasted on charter schools?

DeVos: I'm not sure that's the conclusion, but we will look into the issue.
@repmarkpocan Pocan: Why are you cutting Special Olympics spending?

DeVos: We had to make tough decisions; I think Special Olympics is an awesome program.
@repmarkpocan Pocan asks why the budget request includes a 15.6 percent increase in executive salaries. DeVos doesn't directly answer the question.
Freedom is an American principle, and charter schools embody that principle, @RepAndyHarrisMD says; praises DeVos for how the Trump budget handles charter schools.
Harris highlights DeVos' earlier remarks about U.S. ranks on international tests of 24th in reading, 25th in science, and 40th in math.

"Thank you for thinking outside the box," Harris tells DeVos.
.@RepLoisFrankel says DeVos has a nice disposition, even though Frankel says she disagrees with major parts of the Trump education budget request.
@RepLoisFrankel In a conversation about sexual assault on college campuses, Frankel reclaims her time from DeVos says, "We were doing so well, we were agreeing."
.@CheriBustos brings up teacher shortages, says it's a big issue in Illinois.

Wondering how DeVos will help states with teacher shortages.
"Way too many of them do feel undervalued and underappreciated," DeVos says of teachers.

She says that's why the administration wants to give teachers more control over their PD through its $200 million voucher PD program.
We want to help great teachers stay in the classroom and not feel forced to leave the classroom and become administrators, @BetsyDeVosED stresses.
@BetsyDeVosED .@RepBonnie returns to the topic of why DeVos repealed the Obama school discipline guidance.

DeVos: Students must be treated as individuals; discrimination is wrong; guidance was harming schools.

Here's some background on the issue: blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaig…
.@RepRoybalAllard asks DeVos about the budget's proposed elimination of Title IV grants for school climate, safety, and academic enrichment. Why are you ignoring your own report's recommendations for the grants by eliminating it?
@RepRoybalAllard DeVos says about Title IV, "It has been very thinly spread and has not been shown to be particularly effective at any particular thing."
The secretary quickly adds that across four administration department, the Trump budget seeks to spend $700 million specifically on school safety, including $200 million at @usedgov.
@usedgov .@RepRoybalAllard brings up DeVos statement that students might be better served being in larger classes if better teachers can be better compensated; asks what research supports her statement.
DeVos responds: Different students thrive in different environments.

Roybal-Allard: What's the research you're citing about larger class sizes potentially being better?

DeVos: Mandating certain class sizes doesn't yield clear results.
.@RepKClark returns to the DeVos school safety report and the idea that the Obama guidance on school discipline would create pressure to have racial quotas.
.@RepKClark is zeroing in how the DeVos school safety report accounts for racial disparities in school discipline.

Clark reads from report saying that disparities may result from differences in "problem behaviors" among students of different races.
@RepKClark Clark asks: When you talk about students being treated as individuals, what are you saying? Are you saying that the problem is that black children are just more of a discipline problem?
@RepKClark DeVos repeats her previous statements: No student should be discriminated against based on race, color, national origin.

Clark: Your report pushes the idea that black children are just plain old more disruptive in the classroom? How did you come to that conclusion?
@RepKClark DeVos, again: No student should be discriminated against.

Clark: You should take that statement to heart and change your school safety report accordingly.
We're on to the second round of questions for Betsy DeVos.
.@RepTomColeOK04 praises the Education Freedom Scholarships proposal, the main school choice pitch in the Trump education budget.

Interestingly, when Cole ran this House subcommittee in 2017-18, lawmakers rejected Trump's push to create new school choice programs.
.@NitaLowey basically asks if DeVos had any input in the budget request.

DeVos and Lowey then disagree over the precise number of the budget cut.
@NitaLowey It's only in Washington that we judge the quality of something by how much money we spend on something, @BetsyDeVosED tells Lowey.
.@RepAndyHarrisMD asks: Why doesn't teacher professional development work well?

@BetsyDeVosED: "There's very little latitude given to the teachers themselves."
.@RepBonnie says the Trump education budget cuts would hurt the most vulnerable.

@BetsyDeVosED has repeatedly said that the budget request *protects* the most vulnerable students in special education, those in rural communities, Native American populations, etc.
Rep. Tom Cole praises DeVos to serve as secretary and paying for her own travel, when instead she could have done lots of things outside government service.

"I think there are very few perks for the job that you have," Cole says.
DeLauro closes the hearing by saying Democrats are frustrated with DeVos: "The frustration stems from the inability to get answers to questions."
.@rosadelauro is making it clear how she feels about charter schools:

"Far too often, what we see is charter siphoning dollars away from public schools. They are operated privately. They do lack transparency."
@rosadelauro DeLauro says in fact there have been large academic gains for students of color in recent decades.

"We continue to denigrate our public education system, which leads me to the view that the decision is to privatize this," DeLauro says.
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