DeVos confirmed; WVEA leader says it’s now wait and see
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee says new U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos could have an immediate impact on public schools in West Virginia.
DeVos was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Tuesday on a 51-50 vote. Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie after a 24-hour talk-athon by senators against DeVos, the charter school advocate.
Lee said DeVos’ impact could begin soon.
“She can have serious consequences in West Virginia because we are such a rural state and we rely a lot on the federal funding,” he said. “Anybody who wants to take that funding away and use it for vouchers, private schools, charter schools, home schools, could be a detriment to West Virginia.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who voted in favor of DeVos, released a statement Tuesday that said she believed DeVos would “work hard to improve education for all students across West Virginia and the nation.”
Capito added she doesn’t believe the school voucher system will be forced on states.
“Mrs. DeVos has also provided assurances that she will not impose a school choice or voucher program on any state or school district, sharing my belief that such a mandate should not be required by the federal government,” Capito’s statement said.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, who voted against DeVos, continued to criticize her lack of public school experience in a statement released after Tuesday’s vote.
“We need an education secretary that understands the challenges that students, teachers, and schools in rural areas face. Betsy DeVos has spent her career working to privatize public schools, not investing in and improving them. The policies that she supports would divert already very limited public funds to private schools, reduce accountability from those schools, and significantly harm the public school system in a rural state like West Virginia,” Manchin said.
Lee is hopeful DeVos will turn to experts in the Department of Education for guidance.
“But it’s a wait and see. We’ll have to see what her agenda is going to be and how it will affect West Virginia,” Lee said.