Trump’s education pick dodges a question about privatization of education

Will Betsy DeVos cut funding for public education? She refused to answer.

Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. CREDIT: Carolyn Kaster
Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. CREDIT: Carolyn Kaster

Over her many years of involvement in Michigan politics, Trump’s Education Secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos, has been an advocate for the expansion of for-profit charter schools and vouchers for students to attend private schools.

Her record has worried Democratic senators, who are concerned that she will reduce federal support for public education by focusing on school choice. In the past DeVos has compared public education to the Kodak company, by saying it must either innovate or fail. Asked during her Tuesday confirmation hearing whether she would preserve funding for public education while in office, she dodged.

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Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, asked DeVos whether she would privatize public education and cut funding for public schools.

“Can you commit to us tonight that you will not work to privatize public schools or cut a single penny for public education?” Murray asked.

DeVos avoided the question. She said she would “address the needs of all parents and all students” and that “not all schools are working for the students that are assigned to them.”

She then said she hope to find “common ground” and “empower parents to make choices on behalf of their children that are right for them.”

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Murray pressed her again and said, “I take that is not being willing to commit to not privatizing public schools or cutting money from public education.”

“I guess I would not characterize it in that way,” DeVos said.

Watch the full clip below.