January 30, 2017
Chairman Lamar Alexander, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
455 Dirksen Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Alexander:
The undersigned members of the Buffalo New York Board of Education are writing this letter to voice our grave concerns about President Donald Trump’s nomination of Ms. Betsy DeVos as the next Secretary of the US Department of Education. The undersigned acknowledge that this letter expresses our individual position on this matter as time has not allowed the passage of a Board approved Resolution. Nonetheless, we believe that we have an obligation, on the behalf of the 34,000 children in our District, to make a public statement expressing our opposition to Ms. DeVos’ nomination. We object to the appointment of Ms. DeVos as the Secretary of the US Department of Education for the following reasons:
Ø Over 90 percent of children in this country attend public schools. Ms. DeVos’ express disdain for public education coupled with her abject lack of academic and experiential credentials to lead this federal department raise troubling questions about the future of federal support for public education under Ms. DeVos’ leadership.
Ø Further, she has a long history of using her wealth and influence to undermine public education through the promotion of vouchers, private and for-profit schooling with little or no regulation, transparency, accountability or respect for civil rights in her home state of Michigan. It’s likely that she will use her new position as Secretary of the Department of Education to expand these actions nationally.
Ø During her recent confirmation hearing, Ms. DeVos displayed an appalling lack of knowledge about educational issues, e.g. the high stakes standardized test debate; the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, the Federal Law governing services to children with disabilities; and her refusal to commit to holding all schools receiving federal funding, whether public, public charter or private, to the same accountability standards.
Ø It might be comical, if it was not so alarming, that Ms. DeVos refused to acknowledge that guns do not belong in schools, citing an obscure example of one Colorado school that might need them to ward off grizzly bears!
The foregoing is not an exhaustive list of our concerns, but these are significant issues that should be considered seriously by the Senate in making the final decision on this appointment. We join hundreds of thousands of parents, students, educators and concerned citizens who oppose the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of the US Department of Education. Ms. DeVos has demonstrated a lack of commitment to public education and the fundamental values that historically support this institution as a critical component of a democratic society. Senator Alexander, Ms DeVos’ record disqualifies her for this position and we urge your Committee to reject her appointment.
Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, President and Member-at-Large
Sharon Belton Cottman, Vice - President, Executive Affairs, Ferry District Representative
Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg, Vice-President, Student Achievement, East District Representative
Hope Jay, Esq., North District Representative
Jennifer Mecozzi, West District Representative
Paulette Woods, Central District Representative
Cc: Senator Schumer
Superintendent Kriner Cash