Mark Pocan launches House Public Education Caucus in opposition to Betsy DeVos nomination
By Jessie Opoien
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan on Tuesday announced the formation of a House Public Education Caucus in opposition to President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Betsy DeVos as education secretary.
DeVos, a Michigan billionaire who has been a major backer for charter schools and taxpayer-funded voucher schools in her home state and throughout the country, was set to go before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for her confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Her hearing was postponed until Jan. 17 "to accommodate the Senate schedule," the committee's leaders said in a statement. The committee is still expected to vote on her confirmation on Jan. 24.
The Office of Government Ethics has not yet completed its review of DeVos's financial interests.
Supporters say DeVos would bring innovation and new opportunities to education, while critics are wary of her apparent lack of faith in the country's public education system.
"Making large political contributions to Donald Trump and countless other politicians and organizations aimed at dismantling public education does not count as a qualification for the position of the head of the Department of Education," Pocan said in a press conference on Tuesday.
National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen Garcia said DeVos would be "dangerous" for students.
Pocan, who served as a member of the state Assembly before he was elected to Congress, said taxpayer-funded voucher schools have "failed miserably" in Wisconsin.
"This isn’t about education, this is more about a tax policy for the wealthiest in our country," Pocan said of the school choice movement.
Pocan was joined on Tuesday by several House Democrats along with Eskelsen Garcia, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and Council of Great City Schools legislative services director Jeff Simering.