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Thread: Follow along with us as @BetsyDeVosED testifies before House @edworkforcedems. @virginiafoxx starts off by mentioning the school shooting at Santa Fe High School, says she hopes DeVos will address it since parents are scared.
Foxx notes that the Constitution does not mention "education" once or any synonym for it.
.@virginiafoxx says many of their constituents believe: "The less from Washington, the better."
Foxx notes that sometimes, the federal government just needs to stay out of the way, and contrasts the light touch of the George W. Bush Education Department compared with the Obama administration, which she says introduced a 300% increase in the regulatory burden.
Foxx applauds DeVos for taking on her job "in the face of the unprecedented vitriol that you face."
Top committee Democrat @BobbyScott starts, expresses condolences to victims of Sante Fe High shooting. "We must pass some gun safety legislation" that continues to devastate schools, he says.
Scott notes that last week, Dems recognized the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision: "Unfortunately, this administration has relentless chipped away at civil rights protections, including protections for education." #DeVosHearing
Scott notes with disapproval how the Trump team has dumped moves on Title IX, transgender student guidance from the Obama administration. Criticizes DeVos for halting investigations into systemic civil rights violations.
"We have serious questions about the approval of state plans that disregard the performance of subgroups of students and violate the law," @BobbyScott says, referring to #ESSA plans. #DeVosHearing
Scott criticizes those who blame school shootings on civil rights protections; shifts to the 2014 Obama discipline disparities guidance.
"The department is moving further away from the promise of educational equity," Scott says.
.@BobbyScott: "The department's enforcement of civil rights laws appear to be in full retreat."
Now @BetsyDeVosED is testifying. "We must ensure that our children are safe at school." Says Santa Fe was a reminder that nation must address underlying issues that create "a culture of violence."
DeVos says her department is encouraging districts to use Title IV dollars under #ESSA to make sure their schools are safer.
"Teachers and parents know best how to meet the needs of their students," DeVos says.
DeVos says her team is moving to reduce the "crushing amount of regulations and paperwork" for schools; notes that the federal government provides less than 10% of K-12 funding.
"The era of rule by letter is over," DeVos says when it comes to Title IX and sexual harassment. Says her department plans to issue a notice for proposed rulemaking in the coming months.
DeVos says common assumptions in education must be challenged, such as: "Why are students grouped by age? Why do schools close for the summer? Why can't a student learn at his or her own pace."
And we must rethink the U.S. Department of Education itself, @BetsyDeVosED says. Says her plans to reorganize her department are not due to "partisan ideology" or designed to benefit one group over another.
DeVos praises the PROSPER Act, which would reauthorize the federal Higher Education Act. Says there must be more flexibility when Pell Grants are considered. (Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx is focusing on higher education so far in her questions.)
.@BobbyScott asks DeVos if the PROSPER Act has a $15 billion cut to student aid. DeVos says she's heard that "opined" but doesn't necessarily agree with it. "Do you have another number?" he asks. Testy start to the hearing.
Scott asks about TEACH grants, DeVos says she is aware of the issues. Scott asks if she needs legislation to fulfill related responsibilities, DeVos says no.
Scott asks about a March letter he and others sent about concerns that DeVos has approved #ESSA plans that violate the law. "I have not approved any plan that does not comport with the law," @BetsyDeVosED says.
Scott and DeVos going back and forth about state plans where school grades don't include subgroup performance. "The plans that I have approved conform to the law," DeVos says again. Scott: How can you address achievement gaps if subgroup performance is not included?
Scott probing, trying to get DeVos to say what she believes #ESSA requires with respect to subgroup performance. DeVos reiterates: "I will not add to the law. I will follow the law."
Here's the background you should know about that testy exchange between Scott and DeVos, on how historically disadvantaged groups of students must factor into #ESSA:…
.@RepJoeWilson asks DeVos whether she is concerned, like he is, about the influence of foreign governments on student education. DeVos argues for transparency on foreign governments' contributions to schools.
Wilson asks about the Perkins CTE bill. DeVos: "I commend regional and local community leadership, particularly in the business community, engaging with educational institutions" on CTE issues.
So far, the most significant K-12 exchange in the #DeVosHearing was between @BobbyScott and @BetsyDeVosED. Scott implied that DeVos was letting states ignore disadvantaged groups of students; DeVos argued she was focused on making sure states followed the law. #ESSA
On the subject of apprenticeships, DeVos says countries like Germany and Switzerland can teach the U.S. a lot. "I will be working closely with Secretary Acosta" to advance these opportunities, DeVos says. #DeVosHearing
Rep. Guthrie asks about what Perkins #CTE reauthorization would mean for the Trump agenda. DeVos: We need to build in more flexibilities for these programs to really meet the needs of students today and meet the needs of industry."
DeVos talks about her push to fight the opioid epidemic in schools. Highlights FY19 budget proposal with $43 million for school programs that educate students about dangers of opioids; will look to replicate these programs.
Rep. Grijalva raises teacher walkouts in Arizona, Oklahoma, and elsewhere: "They’re fed up over the lack of investment in education." #DeVosHearing
.@BetsyDeVosED says: There’s no one more important to a student’s education than a great teacher. ... I think they should be better compensated. I think they should be treated as professionals. I contend that the system as it is today doesn’t treat them as professionals."
.@BetsyDeVosED on the current educational system and teachers: "It forces them into a system, in a box. ... I think that that’s an area where we really need to rethink when it comes to education: honoring and respecting great teachers." #DeVosHearing
.@RepRaulGrijalva asks about the DeVos plan to consolidate the Office of English-Language Acquisition, wonders if she'll need Congressional approval. DeVos says the proposal would actually raise the importance of English-language acquisition, not diminish it. #DeVosHearing
And DeVos says yes, where appropriate she'll seek congressional approval for her plans to reorganize the department. #DeVosHearing
Rep. Tim Walberg notes that he enjoyed visiting a school focused on aviation. (Is he referring to the flying focused charter school opened by DeVos' husband?)
DeVos gives a short soliloquy on the importance of choice, and giving teachers the freedom to reach students in the best possible way and for parents to seek choices. "When I talk about rethinking schools, we have got to get back into a mode where we expect creativity."
.@RepJoeCourtney hearkens back to a story DeVos told about how a student struggled at and criticized a high school back in his home state; notes that many in the community objected to DeVos' story. Says they've never gotten a response from her. #DeVosHearing
Courtney is really unhappy with DeVos' story criticizing East Hartford High School, highlights its place in national rankings, implies that DeVos is relying on a student who graduated from the student many years ago. #DeVosHearing
.@RepJoeCourtney asks if @BetsyDeVosED will visit East Hartford High School, which is a magnet school. Says magnet approach promotes "diversity ... as well as quality."
.@ToddRokita says he met a teacher who was quitting, and told him that it was "all the paperwork and forms. ... She wasn't able to teach." #DeVosHearing
Rokita expressing concern that the power shift back to states and districts in #ESSA hasn't come across yet to teachers. #DeVosHearing
DeVos: "Each state has the opportunity to take that same flexibility and bring it down to the district and community level. I have urged and encouraged states to do so.
If that is taken seriously and executed seriously ... teachers will find themselves with a lot of flexibility."
DeVos highlights a charter school that has chosen to help students fighting addiction; they stay in treatment programs, but can also focus on earning HS degrees as well as earning college credit in some cases. #DeVosHearing
.@RepMarciaFudge counters earlier statement from Foxx, says: Education may not be in the constitution, but it is in the law.
Fudge asks her for the purpose of the office for civil rights; DeVos says it is to uphold civil rights and enforce the law. Fudge: That's not the mission statement. #DeVosHearing
Fudge then demands to know what "vigorous enforcement" of civil rights law looks like to DeVos. DeVos responds: "It would be following the law and enforcing the law as stated." Fudge isn't pleased.
Fudge then asks DeVos how she can carry out civil rights enforcement if she is trying to defund her office for civil rights. DeVos shoots back: "We haven't done any such thing." Fudge runs out of time. #DeVosHearing
.@louforsenate asks about the DeVos-led school safety commission. DeVos: "We are looking forward to every interest group, every constituency, particularly teachers, parents, and law enforcement and school leadership." #DeVosHearing
DeVos says about the main goal of her school safety commission: "The outcomes will be really raising up practices, ideas that have been implemented" that may not be widely known. #DeVosHearing
.@RepJaredPolis asks about Trump proposed cut to Title II. DeVos questions efficacy of Title II, and adds, "We do need to ensure that they have the kind of opportunities that they need to continue to develop in their profession." #DeVosHearing
Polis asks about recent court precedents on transgender student rights, asks DeVos about her commitment to LGBTQ students. DeVos: We're committed to protecting those students' civil rights, but says court rulings on transgender students' right have been "mixed." #DeVosHearing
Polis presses DeVos, says transgender students' rights are protected by court precedent and the law. DeVos demurs, again cites the mixed court rulings, and that Congress has yet to weigh in: "I am not going to make up law at the Department of Education." #DeVosHearing
Polis asks if DeVos will commit to supporting the full funding of special education law, as he does. DeVos responds: I will support focusing on meeting the needs of special education students. (So neither a yes nor a no to Polis' question.) #DeVosHearing
.@BetsyDeVosED is using questions from GOP lawmakers to repeatedly stress the importance of more creativity, flexibility and autonomy at the school building level. "That is an approach we have to have replicated across the country," DeVos tells @RepByrne. #DeVosHearing
Rep. Sablan from the Northern Marianas presses DeVos on whether every U.S. territory has an institution of higher education. After a bit of back and forth, DeVos eventually asks with a touch of impatience, "Why don't you tell me?"
.@RepGrothman thanks @BetsyDeVosED for trying to cut the Department of Education's budget. Now he does a mini-pub quiz, asks DeVos about government spending; DeVos gives a tentative guess.
Grothman asks how the Trump team's proposed cut has gone over with congressional appropriators. DeVos says they've not agreed with many of them, but adds, "That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do the right thing by taxpayers."
That seemed like it might have been sort of an uncomfortable exchange for DeVos, given how lawmakers have responded to her proposed budgets.
.@RepBonamici asks @BetsyDeVosED to expedite the work of her school safety commission. DeVos responds: "We are working very quickly to do the work of the commission." #DeVosHearing
DeVos says she's encouraging states to use new money in the 2018 omnibus spending bill for school safety; that appears to be a reference to the $700 million boost to Title IV, up to $1.1 billion.
Bonamici follows up on Polis question, asks if her office is investigating an incident in which LGBT Oregon students were forced to read a Bible. DeVos says if the incident comes to her office's attention, it will investigate. #DeVosHearing
Rep. Jason Lewis says teachers must be granted discretion on discipline issues. Raises 2014 discipline guidance: are decisions on this best left to educators? DeVos: We need to ensure that students are treated justly and fairly. #DeVosHearing
DeVos says she and her team are looking at the issue closely: "It is not tolerable if a student of one color is disciplined more harshly than a student of another color for the same infraction." #DeVosHearing
Lewis: Do the 2014 Obama discipline guidance and discipline issues also pertain to school safety? DeVos: "Indeed it does." #DeVosHearing
Context for that last bit in the #DeVosHearing: Some have linked the PROMISE discipline policy in Broward County Schools with the shooting in Parkland, Florida; others have said the link is not at all clear.
More context for the @BetsyDeVosED comments about teacher pay and the walkouts: DeVos seemed to indicate that "great teachers" deserve better compensation, but did not seem to imply that all teachers or teachers in general should be better paid. #DeVosHearing
More: DeVos did not offer a definition of a "great teacher." #DeVosHearing
.@EliseStefanik asks DeVos about improving educational opportunities in a large, rural district like she represents: What are your ideas about rural innovation in education and more access to things like AP courses? #DeVosHearing
DeVos: We often think of choice as more added infrastructure. "We know that there is probably a very capable and highly qualified instructor who could teach the course to that student remotely," DeVos says. Offers the idea of a co-located "sub charter school." #DeVosHearing
Stefanik notes she represents Fort Drum, and military families there rely on Impact Aid. Asks DeVos about its importance.
DeVos: "We have to think more broadly about how we ensure the needs of those families and give military-connected families more choices in their children’s education." #DeVosHearing
DeVos also says that the Trump administration is committed to funding Impact Aid. (The Trump administration has tried to cut the program, which helps districts where the tax base is impacted by federal activities, such as military bases.) #DeVosHearing
A new member of the committee, @RepJimBanks, has proposed using a portion of Impact Aid to create a new school choice program. But the Trump administration has said it *does not* support this proposal. #DeVosHearing
Democrats have focused quite a bit on higher education issues, but have hit the hot-button K-12 issues like civil rights and #ESSA. Choice has been perhaps less of a focus than in past hearings with DeVos. #DeVosHearing
Right on cue, @BobbyScott returns to how one can truly measure achievement gaps if subgroup performance isn't a part of school ratings. DeVos responds: Overall school ratings weren't a requirement in #ESSA, says there is a "conflation" of two issues by Scott.
DeVos is now talking positively about school choice in Florida. #DeVosHearing
Florida's recent NAEP results show that school choice and the state's approach to education can work for struggling students, DeVos says. (MisNAEPery alert? No sarcasm, seriously asking) #DeVosHearing
Rep. Blunt Rochester asks DeVos if she supports the Banks bill for Impact Aid-school choice. DeVos: I support more choice for military families. #DeVosHearing
As we noted earlier, the Trump administration has stated that it does not support the @RepJimBanks bill for converting a portion of Impact Aid $ into education savings accounts.
Blunt Rochester: Is the segregation of special education students a civil rights issue, and what can the department do on this issue? DeVos: I'm committed to supporting the law as Congress has written it. #DeVosHearing
Blunt Rochester: What are you doing to close the racial gaps in students with disabilities? DeVos: It's key to treat students as individuals and ensure they get access to the appropriate educational opportunities. #DeVosHearing
Blunt Rochester says she's hoping to hear a vision and a plan from DeVos on racial disparities in special education. #DeVosHearing
.@RepJimBanks asks DeVos to define the difference between vouchers and education savings accounts. (Banks wants to turn a portion of Impact Aid $ into ESAs.) DeVos: the funding for them is handled differently. #DeVosHearing
DeVos: I think using education savings accounts to further choice for our military families is a great idea. "The disruption for their children over the course of that career can be very painful." Says in some cases, "It can be good" but we should be more sensitive. #DeVosHearing
Banks asks: My own bill aside, does the Trump team support creating education savings accounts for military families? DeVos: Yes. #DeVosHearing
Banks says the amount of Impact Aid $ that would be used for his school choice program would be "miniscule" and that his colleagues misunderstand it. By contrast, @NAFISschools says the amount of money could be up to $450 million. #DeVosHearing
And ... we're back. Or at least @BetsyDeVosED and @virginiafoxx are back. Several of us education reporters never left.
Now @CongressmanRaja is asking DeVos to define "conflict of interest" in the context of one of her political appointees. Democrats have been keen to ask DeVos to define things in this hearing. #DeVosHearing
.@RepDeSaulnier asks @BetsyDeVosED about her comments that state prohibitions on public funds going to private schools are "bigoted." More:…
DeVos: "I believe that it continues to be a real impediment to familes’ ability to improve education as they desire for their children." #DeVosHear
.@RepDeSaulnier asks: If those state bans on public $ going to private schools are bigoted, isn't also bigoted when an Indiana private school discriminates against LGBTQ students? #DeVosHearing
.@BetsyDeVosED responds: Such schools in Indiana are under a state voucher program, and the state sets parameters for those programs.
.@RepDeSaulnier: "That's convenient."
Rep. Shea-Porter: You say the most recent school shooting shocked you, but it didn't shock me, given recent events; asks if DeVos will participate in a hearing on school safety - DeVos cites her federal school safety commission work, but says she'll consider it.
Not for the first time, DeVos stresses to lawmakers: We won't make up laws. #DeVosHearing
.@RepSheaPorter asks DeVos (I think) if private schools where students pledge support to a different flag should get public funding. DeVos: I'm asking for parent choice, and for the money to follow the child. #DeVosHearing
.@EspaillatNY asks about parents afraid about being detained by ICE when dropping off or picking up kids at schools; does DeVos support Trump administration's actions? #DeVosHearing
DeVos: "We are a compassionate people, and we are also a nation of laws. We need to respect and honor both." Says Congress needs to address deficiencies in immigration laws. Espaillat doesn't like the lack of a yes or no answer. #DeVosHearing
In response to a question from Espaillat, DeVos says it's up to schools whether to refer undocumented students to immigration authorities and lead to their eventual deportation. "These are state and local issues to be addressed and dealt with," she says. #DeVosHearing
Espaillat counters that he's discussing federal immigration law.
Returning to earlier theme: It remains to be seen exactly what, if any proposal for education savings accounts for military families DeVos will ultimately support. #DeVosHearing
.@RepWilson asks if Trump team will shift away from private school choice programs to more public school funding. DeVos: Our budget maintains or increases some school spending, but not overall because of larger Trump budget goals. #DeVosHearing
.@CongressmanGT tells @BetsyDeVosED: I'm not here to ask you to discriminate among kids, unlike some of my colleagues. Thompson thanks her for focusing on the kids. #DeVosHearing
Rep. Glenn Thompson: "I'm not into gotcha questions." We'd love to meet a federal lawmaker or, frankly, anybody, who says/admits, "I love gotcha questions."
.@BobbyScott in his closing statement: The 2014 Obama discipline guidance imposed no requirements on districts, cites @AASAHQ survey that it imposed no new burden on district policies. #DeVosHearing
.@BobbyScott: If the Trump administration rescinds the 2014 discipline guidance, it will send a signal that it "does not value students' civil rights, and that racial discrimination is okay, so long as it is in the name of school safety." #DeVosHearing
Scott: We just didn't have enough time to go into early learning, religious liberty, and other important issues in this #DeVosHearing.
.@virginiafoxx: Funding for Title IV will allow for "a multi-pronged approach to student safety." Important: Title IV can and will be used for a variety of programs, not just school and student safety. Program gets $1.1 billion now. #DeVosHearing
Reporters asked @BetsyDeVosED if they could speak to her as she walked out of the hearing. She replied, "I think I've talked enough." That's a no. #DeVosHearing
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