WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 30, 2017) — The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) in a press release Monday said it strongly opposes the confirmation of billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.
SEARAC, a national organization that advances the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans, states that DeVos’s lack of skills, knowledge, and experience make her unqualified, unfit, and undeserving to serve the needs and potential of America’s most precious asset: our students.
The press release continued that, America’s students are more diverse than ever — students of color, immigrant, and refugee students now comprise the majority of all public school students. Our students deserve a US Secretary of Education who is committed to driving federal policy solutions that ensure all our diverse students can achieve equitable outcomes. Our students deserve a US Secretary of Education who will champion equity.
DeVos’s weak grasp of key federal civil rights education laws, combined with her lack of personal and professional experience in a public school setting as either a public school student, parent of a public school student, teacher, or administrator, render her unfit to serve as US Secretary of Education. Her demonstrated lack of understanding of and commitment to enforcing, across all states, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975 threatens civil rights protections for our most vulnerable students. Her inability to respond meaningfully to basic questions during her confirmation hearing on topics that have been discussed for years, such as guns in schools, shows a lack of respect and preparedness for the complexity of the job she wants to assume.
Her only experience with public education has been to worsen inequity by growing charter schools and expanding voucher programs at the expense of public K-12 schools that educate the vast majority of our nation’s students from all socio-economic, racial and ethnic, and immigrant backgrounds. DeVos’s history of promoting charter-school only solutions will lead to decreased investment and attention in public K-12 schools that deserve to be our nation’s priority.
America’s students deserve a leader whose life’s work demonstrates a commitment to serving all students, especially the most vulnerable. Our students deserve a leader who will expand enforcement of federal civil rights that protect students of color, immigrant students, LGBTQI students, and students with disabilities to help them access a quality education in every school, in every state.
As a community of refugees who were denied access to education in our war-torn countries, we hold public education close to our hearts as key to protecting and fighting for freedom. Our communities will not endorse a leader uncommitted to providing exceptional public education for all of our students.