Senator Lankford Supports Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today voted for cloture, a procedural motion, on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be the Secretary of Education. Lankford also delivered a floor speech on his support for her confirmation. DeVos’s vision for greater local control and a limited federal role in education policy led Senator Lankford to believe she will be a strong leader in the role of Education Secretary. 

“I will support Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary for one main reason—she has expressed her absolute commitment to transfer more control of education policy from Washington, DC to states, parents, and local leaders,” said Lankford. “Ms. DeVos has clearly stated her commitment to public education and her commitment to parents who want the ability to have additional options for their child’s education, if their state chooses to allow other options.

“Throughout my time in Congress, I have seen the dangers of a centralized, one-size-fits-all bureaucracy that assumes every child learns the same way and requires the same school model. Thankfully, last year, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which transferred some authority to state departments of education away from Washington, DC. Now is the time to build upon that law. Schools in Oklahoma don’t need to be run like schools in New York or Oregon or any other state. I want Oklahomans, not bureaucrats in Washington, to address our education needs, because they can make education decisions that are best for Oklahoma students, teachers, and families.

“Betsy DeVos has served in roles throughout her life that empower students and families, especially students in poverty and those with special needs. Ms. DeVos is a non-traditional selection for Education Secretary, but there is no question that she has spent her life working to improve education in America.”

Oklahoma public advocacy groups, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma, have urged Senators Lankford and Inhofe to confirm Betsy DeVos.

Senator Lankford has frequently pointed to this statement in Ms. DeVos’s written testimony before a Senate Committee to explain his support for her nomination. Ms. DeVos wrote, “President-elect Trump and I know it won’t be Washington, DC that unlocks our nation’s potential, nor a bigger bureaucracy, tougher mandates or a federal agency. The answer is local control and listening to parents, students, and teachers.”

DeVos continued, “The vast majority of students in this country will continue to attend public schools. If confirmed, I will be a strong advocate for great public schools. But, if a school is troubled, or unsafe, or not a good fit for a child—perhaps they have a special need that is going unmet—we should support a parent’s right to enroll their child in a high-quality alternative.”

Betsy DeVos is chairman of the American Federation for Children, whose mission is to “improve our nation’s K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.” Like previous education secretaries under Democrat and Republican administrations, Ms. DeVos also supports the ability for local districts to allow charter schools and school choice. Both of President Obama’s secretaries of education, John King and Arne Duncan, supported charter schools. In fact, before becoming secretary, Mr. Duncan opened the Ariel Community Academy, a charter school in Chicago.