Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary, displayed at best confusion and at worst a complete lack of understanding when it comes to key federal law involving students with disabilities. At Tuesday's confirmation hearing before a Senate panel, DeVos spoke to those who will vote on whether she should become President-elect Donald Trump’s education secretary.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) asked DeVos about the IDEA Act, The federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which is law that mandates public schools provide children with disabilities a “free appropriate public education.” It governs how states and public agencies provide various services to millions of students in the U.S. each year.
Kaine asked DeVos if she thought that all schools that receive federal funding, regardless of whether they are public, public charter or private, should be required to comply with the IDEA.
To which she responded: “I think they already are.”
Kaine: “But I’m asking you a should question. Whether they are or not, we’ll get into that later.” He then repeated his question.
DeVos, clearly unsure of how to reply said: “I think that is a matter that is best left to the states.”
Kaine responded: “So some states might be good to kids with disabilities and other states might not be so good and, what then, people can just move around the country if they don’t like how kids are being treated?”
Devos repeated: “I think that’s an issue that’s best left to the states.”
Kaine said: “What about the federal requirement? It’s a federal law, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act,” and he repeated his question.
DeVos then began referencing a Florida voucher program for students with disabilities, but it requires students to sign away their IDEA due process rights...
Kaine interrupted her saying, “Just yes or no.” But DeVos pandered on an answer and continued to say that many parents are happy with the program.
Kaine persisted: “I think all schools that receive federal funding, public, public charter, private, should be required to meet the conditions” of IDEA. He then asked again if she agreed.
DeVos said: “I think that is certainly worth discussion.”
Kaine interrupted her saying, “So you cannot yet agree with me?”
And then the panel moved on, leaving all of us wondering if Betsy DeVos even understood Kaine's questions and whether she is even minutely fit to be education secretary, and an advocate for the children of our country...
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