Cantwell: DeVos doesn't get it, shouldn't be education secretary

By:  Joel Connelly
Source: The Seattle Pi

U.S. Secretary of Education-designate Betsy DeVos does not appreciate the importance of public education and has a tin ear for laws serving the disabled, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in a statement Thursday evening.

Cantwell will vote against confirming DeVos, a billionaire school-voucher advocate from Michigan, to President Trump's Cabinet.

Both Washington senators will oppose DeVos.  Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., elicited a series of evasive answers at a Senate hearing early this month when asking the nominee if she will commit to supporting public education. 

"Public education boosts millions out of poverty and gives every student a chance to succeed," Cantwell said in announcing her no vote.  "Yet, Betsy DeVos misses the importance of public schools to working families.

"When it came to protecting students with disabilities, Mrs. DeVos showed a lack of understanding for federal disability laws in education that ensure every child receives a high-quality education."

Senate Republicans have protected DeVos, a mega-donor to GOP causes, more than any other Cabinet nominee.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate Education Committee, has allowed only a single hearing at which each senator was given just five minutes to question DeVos. The hearing took place before DeVos was vetted by the Office of Government Ethics.

A former preschool teacher and Shoreline School Board member, Murray joined with other committee Democrats in asking for a second hearing on the controversial nomination.  Alexander turned them down.

"I will be voting NO on Mrs. DeVos' nomination," Cantwell said.