11 Questions for Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education, appeared at a “thank you” rally in Grand Rapids, MI last Friday with Trump. At the rally both Trump and DeVos said it was time to end Common Core. DeVos specifically said, “This means letting states set their own high standards and finally putting an end to the federalized Common Core.”

While there is mounting opposition to her nomination both from the teachers unions and from some of my compatriots in the fight against Common Core I highly doubt her nomination will be derailed. Even if it is derailed I have to wonder at what cost?

Despite my doubt about an effort to block her nomination, I don’t feel our skepticism is misplaced. While I personally have chosen to be optimistic, I’m cautiously so. DeVos’ only track record on Common Core until she was nominated was funding and serving on boards that advocated for it, including one organization that was part of a collaborative effort to fight against the repeal bill offered in Michigan. Yes we’re told that she was just a part of those groups on behalf of school choice, but for those of us who have been in the trenches fighting Common Core it leaves a bitter taste in our mouth that is not easily lost.

The ball is in DeVos’ court. Talk is cheap and the only true way to gain trust is through positive action. In the meantime, as she goes through Senate confirmation hearings and spends time meeting with individual senators, it would be helpful to have the answers for these questions especially since she is not doing any interviews beforehand.

  1. Is it the role of the U.S. Department of Education to mandate states to have “higher standards” even if they don’t dictate what those are?
  2. What constitutes “higher standards”? If the Feds were not involved with Common Core would you have seen those as “higher standards”?
  3. Since each state had to adopt Common Core what does “putting an end to the federalized Common Core” look like?
  4. Should the Federal government mandate assessments?
  5. What is your view of the Every Student Succeeds Act? Did that legislation go far enough to return local control?
  6. How will you shrink the U.S. Department of Education? Do you believe the Department should eventually close?
  7. Do you plan to rescind many of the “Dear Colleague” letters sent during the Obama administration?
  8. What is the purpose of education?
  9. Should the federal government mandate school choice programs?
  10. What strings would/should federal money for school choice have?
  11. What do you plan to do to protect student data privacy? How will you strengthen FERPA?

This isn’t an exhaustive list, what would you add?