DeVos Confirmed as Ed Secretary, but Questions Remain


On Tuesday, Feb. 7, Vice President Mike Pence cast the decisive vote in favor of Betsy DeVos as the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education. While Pence broke a 50-50 tie and put an end to the confirmation process, the debate over DeVos’ fitness for the position and her potential impact on public schools continues unabated.

Every Senate Democrat, along with a pair of Republican Senators — Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — voted against DeVos and helped make the typically low-profile confirmation process for Education Secretary a closely watched affair.

Now that that eyes of the nation are trained on Secretary DeVos, we hope that she will do the hard, necessary work of engaging the country in the quintessential American enterprise — our public schools – and of providing all students with the opportunity, resources and support needed to fulfill their potential.

Secretary DeVos’s nomination attracted widespread criticism rooted in her absence of experience with public schools as a student or a parent, unfamiliarity with key education issues and apparent lack of understanding about essential policies such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

It is our hope that Secretary DeVos will address the numerous academic challenges and opportunities for learning in our public school system. CSBA stands ready to partner with the Secretary on behalf of California’s 6.2 million public school students. We will work diligently to provide her with data about the needs of California’s diverse student population while emphasizing the important role governing board members play in advancing student achievement across the state.

We also look forward to sharing our values with the new Secretary. Those core beliefs include, but are not limited to: ensuring our students have access to a free, high-quality education that addresses the needs of the whole child, a commitment to anti-discriminatory policies and practices, opposition to school vouchers, and support for a safe and welcoming school environment for every student regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background.

CSBA will remain steadfast in advocating for these principles and other policies that truly advance our public education system, and will staunchly oppose any policies that undermine the foundation of public schools and the role of governing board members.

As a student’s first model of civic engagement, public education is both a product of and a tribute to our democratic principles. As always, we will defend those principles, California students and the integrity of our public schools.