Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary and Changes on Capitol Hill

As widely reported, President-elect Trump has nominated Betsy DeVos to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education.

DeVos, 58, chaired the American Federation for Children, an advocacy group that has aggressively pushed to expand charter schools and school voucher programs. She stepped down from that position after the nomination. 

The selection of DeVos as Education Secretary indicates that the Administration is planning to go forward on the campaign pledge to use $20 billion to expand charter schools and provide private school options for low income students. After the selection DeVos tweeted, “I am honored to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again. The status quo in ed is not acceptable.”

DeVos had signaled prior support for the Common Core State Standards, but in recent days has said they were a “federal boondoggle” and tweeted, “I am not a supporter — period.”

The Senate HELP Panel will hold a hearing and will vote on the DeVos nomination before it goes before the Senate for full confirmation.  

HELP Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) called her nomination an “excellent choice.” According to a statement from Alexander, “Betsy has worked for years to improve educational opportunities for all children. As secretary, she will be able to implement the new law fixing No Child Left Behind just as Congress wrote it, reversing the trend to a national school board and restoring to states, governors, school boards, teachers and parents greater responsibility for improving education in their local communities.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Democrat on the HELP Panel, said she will closely examine DeVos’s record. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (DeVos is based in Michigan) told reporters she is concerned about the DeVos pick, saying “she and her husband have been very involved in advocating for policies that have seriously undermined public education in Michigan.”

Both the NEA and AFT quickly issued statements after the nomination was announced. “DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools,” said Randi Weingarten, AFT president. “The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation.”

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said, “she has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education. By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.”

The Network for Public Education announced it will campaign to stop the approval of DeVos as Education Secretary. In a statement Executive Director Diane Ravitch said, “Betsy DeVos’ hostility to public schools makes her unfit to be Secretary of Education. She has a long record of supporting private and religious schools, not public schools. Those of us who believe that public education is a public responsibility, not a consumer good, must resist her nomination.”

Read more on the nomination:

NY Daily News (op-ed) Donald Trump vs. public schools: Betsy DeVos is a radical choice

Education Next: Twenty Questions for Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s New Education Secretary

Education WeekWho Is Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Secretary Pick?

ABC News:  Everything You Need to Know about Betsy DeVos (Video)

Department of Education Releases Final Rules on Accountability

On November 28, the Department of Education announced final regulations to implement the accountability, data reporting, and consolidated state plan provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Read the press release with highlights of key changes from the draft regulations, fact sheet with a summary of major provisions, chart on requirements and timeline for identification of schools for support and improvement.

Two big changes in the final rule: states will now have until the 2018-19 school year to identify low-performing schools and until the 2019-20 school year to identify the schools where students are consistently underperforming. And in the draft rule states were required to submit state plans to federal officials for review and approval in March or July of 2017. In the final rule those periods were pushed back to April or September, 2017.

How will the incoming Administration deal with these new regulations? Trump officials have promised to review all regulations issued by President Obama and rescind or modify those regulations they do not like. This would include the regulations on ESSA, so the future of these regulations is still unclear. Senate Republicans have previously stated that the Department has overstepped its authority on many of the ESSA rules and regulations. If confirmed by the Senate, DeVos would be charged with approving state plans for holding schools accountable under ESSA.

Foxx Selected as Chairwoman of House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has been selected as the chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in the 115th Congress.

Foxx spent most of her career as a teacher and administrator in North Carolina’s higher education system. Her first public office was service on her local school board. Prior to entering Congress, Foxx also operated an independent nursery and landscaping business with her husband, Tom. On the Committee on Education and the Workforce, she has served for the last six years as chairwoman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over higher education and workforce development.

She is a huge proponent of diminishing the role of the federal government, and has been an outspoken critic of the Department of Education and many of the rules established by the Obama administration.

 Scientific Society CEOs Ask Trump to Draw on S&T Expertise

In a letter to President-elect Donald Trump, the CEOs of 29 national scientific societies are calling on Trump to quickly appoint a science advisor and draw on S&T expertise to address national challenges.

The letter concludes with a set of offers to assist the transition team with “developing a path forward to ensure that U.S. innovation infrastructure grows and flourishes under your administration” and to provide counsel on candidates for top S&T positions in the federal government.

Read the transition document from NSTA and other STEM education groups that was sent to the Trump Transition team.

Read the STEM Education Coalition recommendations to the Trump Transition Team.

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.

Jodi Peterson is Assistant Executive Director of Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.


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