Charter school advocates call on McCaskill to support Betsy DeVos


WASHINGTON  – As President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education heads towards a Senate confirmation vote next week, charter school advocates are encouraging U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill to reconsider her opposition to Betsy DeVos.

In a phone conference Wednesday morning, Gerard Robinson, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and St Louis attorney Paul Brown praised DeVos for her longtime support of school choice.

McCaskill, who faces a difficult re-election campaign in 2018, has previously criticized DeVos and indicated that she will vote against her confirmation. Robinson accused DeVos’ opponents of doing the bidding of liberal special interests, including teachers unions.

Robinson accused DeVos’ opponents of doing the bidding of liberal special interests, including teachers unions.

“Senators opposing [Ms. DeVos’] nomination are doing so because they are wedded to defenders of the status quo, namely union bosses and bureaucrats,” Robinson said. “President Trump won the election by pledging to shake up the status quo. The president deserves to have his nominees confirmed when they are highly qualified, which Ms. DeVos is based upon 30 years of experience acting as a change agent outside of Washington.”

Paul Brown specifically called on Sen. McCaskill to change her position, casting school choice as a way to revitalize Missouri’s urban areas while providing opportunities for poor students and families.

“Charter schools have given young parents in the city of St Louis the ability to choose schools that are right for their children without having to move out of the city,” said Brown. “If Senator McCaskill wishes to support the ideal of strong and sustainable city neighborhoods, she needs to support that ideal by reconsidering her opposition to Ms. DeVos.”

Doug Thaman, executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association, also participated in the call, touting the importance of having a school choice advocate leading the Department of Education.

“Charter public schools and district public schools are models. Neither is an end-all solution, and it’s critical that the US Secretary of Education supports and protects all options, thereby allowing every state to determine the best pathways for the implementation of public education for their citizens,” said Thaman.

Senate Republican leadership announced today that they expect to have enough votes to confirm DeVos when her nomination comes before the full Senate early next week, but two Republican senators have already indicated they will not vote for DeVos.