Urgent — Tell Your Senators: Don’t Let Betsy DeVos Off the Hook for Privatizing Public Education

January 9, 2017

This week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) is expected to hold a confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.

As we explained in our letter to the HELP committee, Betsy DeVos has a lengthy and destructive record of advocating for the privatization of the public education system, particularly through school voucher schemes that funnel taxpayer money from public schools to private, overwhelmingly religious schools. She has referred to her work as a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” Further, she has no experience in public education, exclusively attending private religious schools and sending her own children to them as well.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) strongly opposes school voucher schemes, as they threaten the separation of church and state and religious liberty, fail to improve education, deprive students of fundamental rights and protections, and lack oversight and accountability. We also believe public education is a common, humanistic good. Accordingly, we have serious concerns regarding Devos’ nomination to head the Department of Education.

If Betsy Devos is confirmed as Secretary of Education, federal school voucher and other privatization schemes could very well become a reality. That’s where you come in. 

The Senate HELP committee membership covers 23 states: 

  • Alaska (Sen. Lisa Murkowski, 202-224-6665) 
  • Colorado (Sen. Michael Bennet, 202-224-5852) 
  • Connecticut (Sen. Chris Murphy, 202-224-4041) 
  • Georgia (Sen. Johnny Isakson, 202-224-3643) 
  • Indiana (Sen. Todd Young, 202-224-5623) 
  • Kansas (Sen. Pat Roberts, 202-224-4774) 
  • Kentucky (Sen. Rand Paul, 202-224-4343) 
  • Louisiana (Sen. Bill Cassidy, 202-224-5824) 
  • Maine (Sen. Susan Collins, 202-224-2523) 
  • Massachusetts (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 202-224-4543) 
  • Minnesota (Sen. Al Franken, 202-224-5641) 
  • New Hampshire (Sen. Maggie Hassan, 202-224-3324)
  • North Carolina (Sen. Richard Burr, 202-224-3154) 
  • Pennsylvania (Sen. Robert Casey, 202-224-6324) 
  • Rhode Island (Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, 202-224-2921) 
  • South Carolina (Sen. Tim Scott, 202-224-6121) 
  • Tennessee (Sen. Lamar Alexander, 202-224-4944) 
  • Utah (Sen. Orrin Hatch, 202-224-5251) 
  • Vermont (Sen. Bernie Sanders, 202-224-5141) 
  • Virginia (Sen. Tim Kaine, 202-224-4024)
  • Washington (Sen. Patty Murray, 202-224-2621) 
  • Wisconsin (Sen. Tammy Baldwin, 202-224-5653) 
  • Wyoming (Sen. Michael Enzi, 202-224-3424)

If you live in any of these states, CFI urges you to take a moment today to call the office of the senator who sits on the HELP committee and state that you are constituent calling to share your concerns regarding DeVos’ nomination and express your opposition to school voucher schemes and support for public education.

School voucher schemes are nothing more than a backdoor attempt to defund our shared public schools and funnel the money to sectarian religious schools, many of which discriminate in employment and enrollment and indoctrinate students with religious-based teachings and pseudoscience. Instead of funding private and religious schools, taxpayer money must be used to support and improve the public school system, which provides a religiously neutral, constitutionally sound, evidence-based, accountable education for all students. We urge you to take action today!