, 109 tweets, 16 min read Read on Twitter
Good morning. Big day for folks who follow education politics and policy. We have DeVos testifying before the House Ed Labor Cmte regarding the administration's ed priorities, which is sure to be a bit contentious. AND Sens. Alexander and Murray will hold another #HEA hearing.
You can watch DeVos here:
You can watch the Senate higher education hearing here: help.senate.gov/hearings/reaut…
I'll be following the DeVos hearing, which is just getting underway now.
If the first link didn't work, try this one:
Rep. Bobby Scott is going over a litany of criticisms he and Dem colleagues have regarding ED's policies and priorities. He's specifically concerned with her lack of communication with members of Congress.
Ranking Rep. Virginia Foxx, in making her opening remarks, says ED under Obama increased red tape with its regulations and DeVos has worked hard to undo that spider web. She the dives head first into skills-based education/CTE, which has long been a priority of hers.
Committee Rs will always believe a one size fits all approach will do harm, and that's especially true in education, Rep. Foxx says in applauding DeVos for her focus on school choice.
Foxx: It behooves us to be thorough and exacting in our review of the dept budget request, but thorough and exacting does not mean prejudice and judicious. You can expect this side of the dais to ask questions about the accomplishments you've made over the last two years.
DeVos is up for opening remarks, but first some remarks from Rep. Walberg, fellow Michigander who has also worked with DeVos in the past on ed policy. He says any approach to ed that allows parents the choice to provide the best ed for their kids, you were involved w and promoted
DeVos: Begins by reminding that the goal when Congress created ED was not to increase the authority of the govt over ed or diminish the resp of ed for states. But that is has by unleashing billions of dollars for federal ed programs with little effectiveness.
She says she helms ED to offer a new course: A course of freedom.

She then dives into her $5 billion tax credit scholarships. This admin urges this body to invest in students, she says.
Now on higher ed: We must rethink our approach to higher ed because of the massive about of students debt, she says. We are tying to give them more information to help them make better choices (College Scorecard, etc.)
On teachers, DeVos touts the new teacher voucher proposal included in the budget proposal, which would allow teachers to choose their own types of personal development.
Rep. Scott: First question is on the elimination of the school discipline guidance. Has the Trump administration abandoned the use of disparate impact as outlined in Title VI? DeVos says her administration has not and they continue to enforce.
Rep. Scott: Asking about Texas Tech med school's announcement that they will not use race in admissions after entering into agreement with OCR. DeVos: They voluntarily entered into this agreement and there are at least a couple of additional active cases we're investigating.
Rep. Scott: What are you doing to increase the number of African American men in med school? DeVos: Talks around the question. Scott: So what are you doing? DeVos: We are following SCOTUS ruling. Scott: That means you're doing nothing? DeVos: It means we are following the law.
Rep. Guthrie asks DeVos about $5 billion tax credit scholarship. DeVos: This is a great and historic opportunity to come in alongside what's already happening in states and augment it w new opportunities.
DeVos: There is unanimity around the fact that students need more access to apprenticeships.
Rep. Davis asks DeVos about student loan debt and specifically about failure of loan servicing. Says ED has not been responding to their questions. Says 93 percent of over 1,000 letters she's received have been responded to. We try to be diligent.
Davis: What has ED done since the OIG report on loan serving? DeVos: We are more closely monitoring the servicers. Davis: What's going to change for the students? DeVos: We have a forward-leaning, next-gen proposal to modernize the entire student loan system.
DeVos: I learned that the average number of loans a student holds is 4.6 and they're most often with different services. it's very confusing for them to payback those loans.
Rep. Walberg: I was delighted to hear your commitment to career and technical ed. The average wage in construction now is $30/hr. These trades are a profession that can pay well. Excited about higher ed teaming up with trades more and more.
Rep. Grijalva asking BASIS charter schools, which are top-ranked in AZ. The lack of oversight on charter school finances, he says, is egregious. DeVos responds by citing wait-lists. Charter schools provide great opp for a lot of students and there is clearly more demand for them.
Grijalva: What oversight will you take on charters? DeVos: Charter schools are authorized by the states. We know there are some that don't operate well and are shut down. That's good. And it should be the same with for traditional public schools.
Rep. Allen: Asks abt teacher vouchers. DeVos: this is abt teachers guiding and controlling their own development. Teachers would be able to pursue their own prof development. An early stage teacher might want classroom management skills. Middle stage wants more subject expertise.
DeVos: I think it's a great opp for states and communities to look anew at what the real needs are and for employers to explicitly partner w educators to design programs to meet the needs.
Rep. Courtney: Asks about OIG report on loan services. Under your leadership you've taken steps to undermine state oversight of loan servicer. Brazenly the ED denied the existence of this memo and only made public bc someone at ED leaked it, he says. Why did you do this?
DeVos: OIG report found things that happened a long time ago and they've been addressed. But to involve every single state in an oversight capacity really preempts the federal [role].
DeVos: We continue to take our responsibility to student borrowers very seriously and that servicers are doing their job.
Courtney: Well you're not working with us to let us see that.
Rep. Roe: I talked to a retired college professor who is very concerned about grade inflation. In colleges As are the most common grade, he says. Back when I was on schools, the most common was a C. Happening in high school too. What should we do about it?
DeVos: Other data begs the question about why are we so low ranking in math and science compared to the rest of the world. Somehow she's able to turn her answer into how the $5 billion tax credit scholarship could help.
Fudge on tax credit scholarship: You in fact are trying to pick winners and losers. You have already decided we are going to make rich people richer with the tax credits. let me give you another bite of this apple. A voucher is a voucher.
Fudge: This will create a $5 B whole in the federal treasury, so indeed it does hurt students. Let's talk about freedom. it's so enlightening for me. Did you know that freedom is not free? We learned that in the Civil Rights Movement. There is a cost to everything we do.
Fudge: This is a shell for private and religious schools. I wish we could be honest. This is nothing more than another attempt to disinvest in public ed.
Byrne: I believe the civil rights act is clear that no child should face discrimination. What are you doing to uphold the law?
DeVos notes ED is looking into restraint and seclusion used in K-12 schools, especially among those with special needs. Also says she hold regular webinars for those who need to work on the web accessibility for their students. those are a couple of areas where we are working.
Rep. Sablan asks about #ESSA guardrails. While there is flexibility this is not a blank check. Are you aware that 40 states don't include disaggregated subgroup data for at least one federally required subgroup?
DeVos says every plan she approve follows federal law. When Sablan asks for a Yes or No, Devos gives the same response. Sablan: The data is critical for parents and policymakers. "English is my second language but you're not giving me an answer"
Sablan: How is ED holding states accountability for subgroup performance?
DeVos: We are committed to ensuring states are following the law.
Sablan: You have not answered my question but thanks for trying.
Rep. Stefanik is up now and talking about how non-traditional students are today the traditional students. Wants to know how the expansion of Pell might help those students. It's a real opportunity for bipartisan modernization of the Pell program.
Stefanik on higher ed now: Most student debt belongs to students who have not graduated. How could Pell expansion help with dual-enrollment? I think it will help us ensure the completion rate increase and students graduate at a faster rate and therefore taking out fewer loans.
Rep. Bonamici: A budget is a statement of priorities and values. I'm disappointed that it would zero out Title IV, which covers tons of different types of programs aimed at well-rounded ed. You told me fund spread too thin. Logical thing then would be to fully fund. Not eliminate
Bonamicic asks about ED's decision to reinstate ACICS accreditor, which was shuttered under Obama after failing to provide robust oversight on for-profit schools it oversaw. DeVos says it reviewed information and decided it could reinstate on provisional basis.
Bonamici: When you rolled back guidance on transgender protections, did you know it increases stress, lower grades, lower graduation rates?
DeVos: I do know that.
Rep. Smucker on tax credit scholarship: I would like to dig into the idea that we are picking winners and losers. I know that's not what you're trying to do.
DeVos: My focus will be on helping all students get a great education. the proposal would help advance that.
Rep. Takano on borrower defense: You said zero claims have been approved two weeks ago. Is that still true?
DeVos: It is true that none have been approved in the last several months, that's due to a pending court case.
Takano: A court has ordered you to implement the rule.
Takano: Is your dept cherry-picking bd claims with the intent to close them out
DeVos: We have closed out more than 16,000. We are ensuring those who are due relief are addressed immediately.
Takano: You have not approved or rejected a single claim but closed thousands of cases.
Takano: Have you ordered your political appointees to instruct your career staff at ED to focus to prioritize the closing of claims over approving them?
DeVos: [Says they are in the process of refining the rule]
Takano: I'll take that as a non-answer
Committee has to break to vote. It will be at least 30 minutes before they return.
And we're back.
Rep. Walker on D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Act reauthorization (SOAR Act). Thanks DeVos for increase funding for it. Why is it important for Congress to reauth now? What would be the result of a lapse of funding?
DeVos: There is an increase in the demand for this, which is why we proposed doubling the funding for it. Notes that more than half of the students in D.C. choose schools other than those they're zoned for.
Walker wants to talk HBCU. What are your plans to increase academic quality?
DeVos: This admin knows and respects the value HBCUs bring. I meet regularly w many members and presidents of HBCUs.
Rep. Adams says Pell grants are great. many student who attend HBCUs depend on it. We've got to expand the money year round. if you stretch it out and not put additional dollars in it, it doesn't help very much.
Adams asks about ACICS reinstate. DeVos says they were following a court order to consider additional information the previous administration did not take into account.
Adams: I think ti would be nice if we had a department that actually put students first.
Rep. Taylor asks DeVos if she wants to elaborate on anything she's been cut off from saying.
DeVos: There have been a number of thing on which I haven't been able to comment. And its difficult when issues are being conflated. I'm not here to answer multiple choice questions.
Rep. Norcross: relationship between employer and employee works best when they work cooperatively. You said you were thankful for SCOTUS Janus decision. If teachers are choosing to join unions, why are the foundations your families give to coercing them to leave?
DeVos tries to pivot question to the teacher voucher program.
Norcross: What does that have to do with unions.
DeVos: It doesn't.
DeVos: When I took this job I resigned from everything I was involved in
Norcross: Do you believe teachers should have the ability to join a union?
DeVos: They should. They should also have the ability to not join a union.
Rep. Jayapal asks abt DeVos' negotiated rulemaking process: 2/17 slots provided to representatives of students. No state AGs were on the committee. Remaining slots were former for-profit owners, other from industry.
DeVos: negotiated team is assembled by career staff
DeVos: this process will now unfold to a draft rule being released and you will have ample time to weigh into the rulemaking process. The negotiators did a great jobs. I'm proud they reached consensus on a number of issues.
Rep. Grothman talks about work centers for students with disabilities and then switches gears to dual-enrollment programs. They have a cheery exchange. BTW, DeVos says "heretofore" a lot. Like, a lot, a lot.
Rep. Morelle piles onto the for-profit bandwagon. Asks about Argosy closing. Says there was no letter of credit there at the time. Says there's a lack of transparency there.
Rep. Watkins: What are some common questions you hear from employers who are interested in starting apprenticeships?
DeVos: Our focus continues to be about supporting multiple pathways to good careers. When i speak w employers they ask how they can best engage w educators.
DeVoss adds: We have to break down the silos and start working together. We need to make sure the impediments there are broken down to the greatest extent possible.
Rep. Omar asks about conflicts of interests for DeVos, specifically about the Next Gen loan servicing solicitation and Wayne Johnson.
DeVos: All of the process has gone through the ethics process. We don't have conflicts and will not be conflicted.
Omars: Will you commit to releasing communications about the procurement process?
DeVos: Not to release internal communications. But the procurement team is walled off from the rest of ED.
Rep. Meuser asks about tax credit scholarship proposal, as most other GOP members of the committee have.
Rep. Harder: You said reading open kids mind and expands their world. Literacy is the foundation of learning. I agree w that. I personally benefited from the literacy programs funded by ED. Why would you propose to eliminate all federal funding for literacy?
DeVos: Continued fed funding to try to fix these problems hasn't worked. So we are trying something different. Brings up the tax credit scholarship.
Rep. Banks talks about military education savings accounts. Reintroduced legislation this year with new funding mechanism that isn't Impact Aid. How would that help military families?
DeVos: We know many leave active duty bc of education issues for their families.
Banks: Are Confucius programs at colleges a threat?
DeVos: That issue has been raised and there is much more attention being paid.
Banks: Has ED addressed it w colleges?
DeVos: We have raised the question and been much more assertive about insisting they report gifts to schools.
Rep. Wild: Gangs up on DeVos over tax credit scholarships. Says it would take money away from traditional public schools. Then switches to talk about ESSA and asks how we can close achievement gaps w/out strong oversight and reports that states already not implementing correctly.
DeVos: state leadership wants to do right by students. Says the capacity of her staff that oversees state ESSA implementation has not been lessened due to staff turnover.
Rep. McBath asks about for-profit Argosy closings [one of those now closed campuses in her district]. When did ED obtain information about the closure of the schools?
DeVos: When they communicated their financial distress.
DeVos: the previous administration went to war with these schools.
McBath: If students knew that these schools were failing do you think they would have enrolled?
DeVos: Students enroll in schools based on the programs they offer.
Rep. Underwood: Focusing on students w disabilities and alternative assessments. ESSA made important fix by capping the number of students using alt assessments. I'm deeply concerned that now ED appears to be rubber stamping state applications for waivers for this.
DeVos says ED will not put the applications for the waivers online. Only the decisions once they are made.
Rep. Schrier: Your recent appearance have generated lots of media attentions. As a pediatricians, my special needs patients consider this the highlight of their lives. it takes a special kind of heartlessness to want to cut finding for Special Olympics.
Schrier talks about other budget proposals as well, including level funding for IDEA. How can you justify the claim that student w disabilities are a priority for this administration?
DeVos: The reality is we had to present a budget that fell w/in Congress' caps.
Rep. Shalala wants to talk significant disproportionality in special ed as it relates to the number of students of color who are disproportionately identified as having a disability. DeVos overturned the Obama-era guidance, but court later charged DeVos to reinstate it.
DeVos: We are currently reviewing district court order and reviewing next steps. But I'm also concerned about under-identification.
Rep. Levin asks DeVos about borrower defense claims. Asks whether she knows how many students who were defrauded were wrongly collected on.
DeVos says that category of students isn't something ED collects.
Rep. Trone asks about increasing school segregation, both by race and income. Does that pose a threat to ed opp for children of color?
DeVos: I'm concerned about every student.
Trone: Support the autonomy of colleges and university to use race in its admission process?
DeVios: The goal should be to have diversity of every sort. We will defer to courts.
Rep. Cline asks about college affordability.
DeVos points to Purdue University, which has frozen tuition for eight years now and experimenting w income share agreements.
Rep. Lee: How can we protect students and tax payers against unscrupulous for-profit colleges? Do those students have a legal avenue to loan discharge?
DeVos: Yes. It's regrettable that so many have closed and it's in large part due to previous administration going after them.
Rep. Castro: What is ED doing to make sure we are substantively preparing students to go to college but building an infrastructure to guide them there?
DeVos: ED has a limited role in that. Despite our investment of billions of dollars, we've seen no real improvement for students
Castro: Sounds as though you've given up on whether the fed govt can be helpful. DeVos: Not at all. That's why we're proposing tax credit scholarship. Castro: I'm asking about college counselors. DeVos: We believe states and communities have biggest role to play.
Scott: Do you think it's a problem that students are in schools that are crumbling?
DeVos: We believe after billions and billion of dollars trying to engineer student improvement we need to pivot.
Scott: So it's not a problem?
DeVos: Those are state and community issues.
Foxx asks about public service loan forgiveness and how ED is reacting to reports that very, very few borrowers are seeing their loans forgiven. Notes that the previous administration set up those rules.
In response, DeVos says the rules were written strictly and purposefully made loan discharge difficult. Says her budget proposal would phase it out bc one type of role shouldn't be incentiveized over another.
Now Foxx wants to talk neg reg: the whole purpose is to ensure the voices of the stakeholders are at the table. That's how congress wrote it into the law. the sec was skewered on this issue and i want to make it clear that if anyone is to be criticized abt the process it's us.
Rep. Trahan: we have an epidemic of colleges folding and hurting students. We need protections and watchdogs. Previous admin created an enforcement unit. Fully employed but now there are only 2 people in the unit. Why?
DeVos: We take enforcement very seriously.
Rep. Hayes wants to know about using federal funds to arm teachers and tells DeVos to prepare for them.
Hayes: Did ED provide a response orally or in writing on whether a school district can use federal funds to help arm teachers.
DeVos: Probably ultimately yes.
Hayes submits for record a memo from ED that concludes DeVos could (if she wanted to) to say whether or not schools can use federal funds to arm teachers.
Hayes: In light of the contents of this memo you have the ability to make a decision. Your silence is a decision. You have the authority to say that we cannot use federal funds to arm teachers.
Hayes: Make a decision on this. You have the authority to do it. Will you prohibit the use of federal funds to arm teachers? Yes or no?
DeVos: This is a matter for state and local communities to decide
Here's part of Foxx closing statement: Accountability is asking an agency official a tough question and listening for the answer before deciding they’re wrong. It’s not grilling a witness and talking over them the moment you don’t hear what you wanted to hear.
"My dem colleagues have tried for the better part of four hours to twist your words out of context. After doing so they did not allow you to respond and instead filled ht eimt with what they wanted to hear."
This is a gotcha hearing and not an honest attempt to learn how to better serves students. The arrogance exhibited in this committee today has been breathtaking. Indeed rarely have I hear so many people tell you how to do your job and say they know how to do it better than you do
Rep. Scott finished out the hearing by summarizing the issues DeVos is likely to receive follow-up questions about from Democrats. He didn't make any grand, sweeping accusations about anything. He simply gaveled the hearing to a close.

Le fin. Thanks for following along.
For everyone reading this mega-thread, I just want to clarify that, for the most part, these are summaries of the exchanges between committee members and DeVos. I tried to include direct quotes when I could.
For those who want more context on the Bonamici-DeVos exchange on protections for transgender students, you can watch the full clip here:
For those who want to know more about the Bonamici-DeVos exchange on protections for transgender students, you can watch it here:
B: "Your department rolled back that guidance, creating uncertainty and concern. When you rolled back that guidance, did you know that the stress of harassment and discrimination can lead to lower attendance and grades as well as depression and anxiety for transgender students?”
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Lauren S. Camera
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!