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Democrats Press Betsy DeVos on Privatization, ESSA, and LGBT Rights

Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education, sought to use her confirmation hearing to beat back the notion that she would undermine public education as head of the department, as Democrats pressed her on everything from her views on the civil rights of gay and lesbian students, to states’ responsibilities for students in special education, and guns in schools. 

But those assurances didn’t seem to quell the anxieties of Democrats on the committee, including Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the ranking member. “I have major concerns with how you have spent your career and fortune fighting to privatize public education and gut investments in public schools,” she said.

In the early stages of a tense hearing that lasted three and a half hours, Murray asked DeVos if she would be willing to commit not to “cut a penny from public education” or use her perch at the department to privatize public schools. DeVos said she would seek to give parents and children the best educational options possible, which Murray essentially took as a no.