Effrem Report on DeVos Hearing & Vote Delay Covered by Breitbart

January, 2017

Dr. Susan Berry of Breitbart News covered several major policy analysts' and activists' comments on the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing as she also announced that the final U.S. Senate HELP Committee vote was delayed until January 31st due to significant concerns with one of DeVos' many complicated financial holdings:

The Office of Government Ethics released its report for DeVos after her hearing last Tuesday. One of the concerns reported by the NYT [New York Times] is that while DeVos said she had stepped down from the board of Neurocore, a Michigan company that operates biofeedback "brain performance centers" that offer alternative treatment for children and adults with diagnoses of attention deficit disorder and autism, she says she will still keep her financial interest in the company, valued at between $5 million to $25 million...

..."This is not an appropriate investment for the secretary of education," Richard W. Painter, an ethics adviser to former President George W. Bush, reportedly told the NYT...

Here are some quotes from Dr. Effrem that parallel our report on the hearing:
Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Florida-based Education Liberty Watch, observes to Breitbart News there was only one mention of the Common Core standards during DeVos' hearing, during a question posed by Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, who asked DeVos if she intended to coerce Common Core in the states. The nominee answered, "No." 

While pleased with DeVos' answer to that single question, Effrem explains why it is not enough for the thousands of grassroots parents and other citizens who have been battling against the Common Core in their individual states:
As stated in numerous writings by many anti-Common Core experts and activists, the foundation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) mandates the Common Core by imposing secretarial veto of state plans and requiring states' compliance with eleven different federal laws all mandating statewide standards and tests that are Common Core even if not labeled such.
Effrem continued that while DeVos said she would not support a federal school choice law, that response is in conflict to her other answers regarding "accountability."

Those answers "combined with her record of support for very regulated voucher plans in Indiana and Louisiana that require administration of the state (Common Core) tests ... is extremely concerning for the autonomy and viability of private schools," she adds.

Effrem says if DeVos is confirmed, she and her organization will closely monitor how she implements ESSA; the ease with which she grants waivers for "state plans that seek to truly eliminate Common Core" and its associated tests; and the degree to which she resists implementation of social and emotional learning (SEL) accountability schemes.

"The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was gutted by regulatory fiat during the Obama administration," Effrem notes. "At the very least, those privacy protections must be restored and preferably expanded to deal with all of the online data mining that is happening with technology-based education. Privacy was mentioned by Mr. Trump and was one of our questions."

Karen Braun of Stop Common Core in Michigan was quoted also:

She notes that DeVos seems most concerned about parents' choice of the "learning environment" for their children, while the content of what is learned cannot be chosen. She continues:

In her opening remarks DeVos made it clear what she believes:

[DeVos said then,] "Why, in 2017, are we still questioning parents' ability to exercise educational choice for their children? I am a firm believer in parents choosing the learning environment that's best for their individual children."

Choosing the learning environment is NOT true choice. For example, parents in a DeVos charter school in Grand Rapids wanted Common Core OUT of their school. The administration said it wasn't going to happen because "what the state and Mr. DeVos want they are going to get."

Jane Robbins, senior fellow at the American Principles Project summed up the major issue with the DeVos hearing quite well when she said:

"I would have hoped to hear Mrs. DeVos say, in response to almost every question she was asked about education policy, 'That's none of my business -- it's a state and local issue,'" ... "She gave the occasional nod to local control but didn't make it clear that under her guidance, the federal education establishment will be dismantled. That's disappointing."

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