House Democrats Prepare to Scrutinize DeVos’s Education Department

In Education On

WASHINGTON — The last face-to-face meeting between Representative Robert C. Scott and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ended in an awkward cliffhanger.

At a hearing last May of the House Education Committee, Mr. Scott, Democrat of Virginia, challenged the secretary’s assertion that she was holding states accountable for achievement gaps between white and minority students as required by a new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. Mr. Scott, unconvinced, asked more pointedly: How can you assure us that you are following the law if you do not even make states calculate the performance of the different student groups we want to measure?

Ms. DeVos dodged the question.

Mr. Scott is now the chairman of the committee, and he is not taking silence or evasion for an answer. With control of the House and Senate divided, and President Trump in charge of the executive branch, the prospects for the House Democrats’ legislative agenda for education may be limited, but their appetite for oversight of the Education Department appears limitless.

“One of the problems we had in the minority is we asked a lot of questions that have not been answered,” Mr. Scott said in an interview. “Now that we’re in the majority, we can ask the same questions with the expectation that we’ll get an answer.”

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