Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Nolan: “Congress Must Hold Trump’s New Secretary of Education Accountable”

Jan 31, 2017
Press Release

[WASHINGTON D.C.] Calling Betsy DeVos “the most unqualified candidate ever to be nominated for Secretary of Education,” U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan today urged Congress, State leadership, school officials, teachers and parents to join him in “holding her feet to the fire” and ensuring that she protects public education after a party-line Senate panel vote advances her nomination to a full Senate confirmation vote.

“As a father, grandfather, former teacher and member of the new Congressional Public Education Caucus, I am gravely concerned by her lack of commitment to the public education tens of millions of students depend on and her numerous investments that have raised serious ethical concerns over possible conflicts of interest,” Nolan said. “American students are falling behind on the global scale. Our Secretary of Education must be committed to the public education of our children and have the experience, knowledge and respect for federal law necessary to do that important job.”

Last week, Nolan publicly urged President Trump to withdraw the nomination. Nolan said that in her confirmation hearing, Ms. DeVos clearly demonstrated that she has neither the commitment to the best public education for our children, nor the experience, knowledge of and respect for federal law necessary to succeed as Secretary of the Department of Education.

Nolan listed five key areas where DeVos must measures up after failing to provide assurances during her confirmation hearing:

  1. She must commit to the success and support of our public education system. The great majority of children in America are educated in our public schools – schools we need to keep improving to prepare our kids for the challenges of a rapidly changing workforce.
     
  2. She must provide each state with all the guidance and support necessary to move past the failed No Child Left Behind Act that crippled schools and failed students across the country, and implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act we worked so hard to negotiate and pass during the last Congress.
     
  3. She must commit to use federal dollars to educate our children, implementing and enforcing federal laws that protect the civil rights and safety of students, from Head Start through their post-secondary education. That will require her to use her position as Secretary to be an unwavering civil rights champion for every student; as well as to defend students against fraud in higher education, campus sexual assault, and to hold schools accountable for harassment, discipline and bullying.
     
  4. She must do everything in her power to support and enforce the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) law, which requires schools provide necessary accommodations for students with disabilities so they're able to learn and grow.
     
  5. She must prioritize the protection of all students from student loan fraud and commit to investigate and end predatory practices that enroll students in post-secondary programs that pile on debt without any promise or possibility of a good paying job. Despite lack of knowledge and experience with the student loan process, should she be confirmed, Ms. Devos is set to become the head of the largest insurer of student loans in our nation. As student loan debt in our nation reaches $1.3 trillion dollars, the stakes have never been higher.