Politics

Warren takes aim at Trump’s pick for education secretary

Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote of Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos: “There is no precedent for an Education Department Secretary nominee with your lack of experience in public education.”
Charles Krupa/Associated Press/File 2016
Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote of Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos: “There is no precedent for an Education Department Secretary nominee with your lack of experience in public education.”

WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts says Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the Department of Education, has a “radical political philosophy” and a thin resume for the job.

“There is no precedent for an Education Department Secretary nominee with your lack of experience in public education,” Warren wrote in a lengthy letter sent to DeVos on Monday morning.

DeVos hasn’t held top policy-making positions in the past, unlike other picks for the position by past presidents. Warren said that DeVos has “virtually no experience” in handling student debt, developing standards for school accountability, or improving schools — the key responsibilities for the job.

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DeVos is one of seven Cabinet-level nominees who are set to have confirmation hearings in the Senate this week. It’s scheduled for Wednesday. Also on tap this week are hearings for Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state; and Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general.

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DeVos’ nomination has prompted angst from the left because of her record of donating millions of dollars to support conservative candidates and causes. She married into the Amway fortune, and she and her family have donated more than $20 million on the federal level in the last three decades, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

DeVos earned the ire of campaign finance crusaders for a 1997 op-ed she penned in a Capitol Hill newspaper where she bragged about being the largest GOP donor and asserted that her family expected a “return on our investment.”

“Making large political contributions to ‘buy influence’ does not qualify you to help set policy for the education of America’s school children,” wrote Warren.

Warren’s missive includes 41 questions she wants DeVos to answer during her confirmation hearing. Warren asked that DeVos “come prepared to fully answer” the questions.

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DeVos is particularly known for giving money to bolster pro-charter school laws, which liberals tend to dislike. Warren said that the charter school laws DeVos supported in her home state of Michigan have led to mixed results.

Support for charter schools is a pet cause for many Republican donors who want to disrupt the public school system. That’s left conservatives thrilled with the choice, including some who’ve been skeptical of Trump.

“I have known her for many years; she is smart, dynamic, no nonsense and committed,” wrote Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in an op-ed endorsing DeVos. “That’s why the education establishment is so animated to stop her.”

Read Elizabeth Warren’s letter to Betsy DeVos: