Senators Hammer at DeVos on Planned Budget Cuts, Proposed Vouchers

In Budget, Education On
- Updated

Senators had a clear message for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a budget hearing here Wednesday: Don’t get too attached to your budget proposal.

Republican and Democratic senators on the Senate education appropriations subcommittee expressed skepticism about cuts and eliminated programs in the budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education. And Democrats sparred with DeVos over how the spending blueprint for fiscal 2018 handles Title I spending on disadvantaged students, and how a voucher proposal would handle issues of discrimination.

“This is a difficult budget request to defend,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the subcommittee chairman, told DeVos. And he said the elimination of formula-funded programs like the $2 billion Title II program for teacher training, and the $1 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers program that funds after-school, will be “all but impossible” to get through Congress.

Read full Education Week article

ESSA Plans Have to Follow the Law, Not Conform to My Beliefs, DeVos Says

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ESSA Plans Have to Follow the Law, Not Conform to My Beliefs, DeVos Says


U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told senators during a Tuesday hearing on the federal budget that if states’ Every Student Succeeds Act plans follow the law, then it’s her obligation to approve them

In exchanges with Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., DeVos indicated that her personal views on states’ plans would not influence her decisions about them. She also declined to engage with Murphy’s questions at the appropritions subcommittee hearing about where she would draw the line on approval for state school improvement plans. Both lawmakers also are on the Senate education committee, where Alexander is the chairman.

During his question period at the hearing, Alexander (one of ESSA’s main architects) asked DeVos whether she would would “follow the law, or be tempted to use your own policy ideas in approving or rejecting state plans.” DeVos responded, “Senator, we will be following the law and approve plans as Congress has intended.”

That wasn’t quite good enough for Murphy. He repeatedly asked DeVos if she would reject an ESSA plan if she found the school improvement strategies lacking. At one point, he asked her if she would approve a plan in which the improvement strategies for schools would be to repaint the walls. DeVos declined to answer the question directly.

“The plans will have to be approved” if they follow the law, DeVos told Murphy. “Whether I agree with everything in the plans is another question.”

Read full Education Week article

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