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In hearing, Senator Murray also asked Secretary DeVos about for her comment on Spokane teacher Mandy Manning, who hand-delivered a message to President Trump from her students urging him to reconsider the way he talks about immigrants and refugees: Watch HERE  

Secretary DeVos’ proposed budget would cut billions from investments in public education, eliminate school safety grants, critical after-school programs, teacher development resources, and assistance for low-income students

Senator Murray also questioned Secretary DeVos on status of gun safety commission: “After the tragic Parkland shooting, you said Congress should hold hearings on gun and school safety…I urge you to commit to testify in front of the HELP Committee on what meaningful gun safety reform we can enact to help end this scourge of violence in our schools”

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS HERE***

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S FULL SET OF QUESTIONS FOR SECRETARY DEVOS HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) — Today in a U.S. Senate hearing, Senator Patty Murray strongly condemned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ budget proposal and urged her colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to once again reject DeVos’ request to cut billions of dollars in public education investments and eliminate school safety grants, contradicting the Administration’s promise to address the senseless gun violence that has plagued our schools.

Senator Murray also asked Secretary DeVos for her thoughts on Spokane teacher Mandy Manning’s recent trip to the White House, where Manning hand-delivered a letter to President Trump from one of her students that urged the President to reconsider the way he talked about immigrants and refugees.

The exchange is below and HERE.

Senator Murray: You may have seen the student letters that Mandy Manning, she’s the National Teacher of the Year from my home State of Washington, the National Teacher of the Year, delivered it personally to President Trump and she teaches English actually to refugees and immigrants and one of her students wrote to President Trump and I want to read it to you: “When you say you don’t want refugees, students in the hall at school tell me that that they don’t want me here because I am a refugee. You can change this by saying good things about people like me.” That’s what it said, from the Teacher of the Year. Do you think it would be good for all children if the President would say good things about students like those of our National Teacher of the Year?  

Secretary DeVos: I had the pleasure of meeting Mandy and I think she’s an awesome teacher, I think that the work she does is so important and I think that we need to continue to support her and all of her counterparts.

Sen. Murray: But do you think adults should be careful with their language because the impact it has on students like that?

Sec. DeVos: I think we all have an opportunity to be careful with what we say.

Sen. Murray: Including the President?

Sec. DeVos: All of us have the opportunity to be careful.

Sen. Murray: Thank you.

In the hearing, Senator Murray also highlighted Secretary DeVos’ dismal track record of putting her own agenda before students, and questioned Secretary DeVos on her attempts to scale back the Office for Civil Rights and how her proposed cuts would impact students.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Unfortunately, instead of taking [the concerns of students, parents, and teachers] to heart, you have doubled down on your harmful agenda and filled your Department with for-profit college executives and lobbyists looking out for their former employers and clients. This couldn’t be clearer when looking at your actions over the past year and the budget you are here to defend today. No matter how we measure them—either on the basis of proficiency or growth—the result is a failing grade.”

“You continue to prioritize your extreme privatization agenda—which would siphon taxpayer dollars away from public schools. You are ignoring the parts of our nation’s K-12 law—the Every Student Succeeds Act—that help ensure equity in our schools. You have made it easier for predatory for-profit colleges and student loan companies to take advantage of students, by rolling back a number consumer protections and effectively dismantling the unit that investigates claims of fraud and abuse.”

“You have taken a number of extremely concerning steps to undermine civil rights protections for students, including attempting to scale back the Office for Civil Rights, rescinding guidance protecting transgender students, making it easier for schools to once again sweep sexual assault under the rug, saying it’s a local decision to call ICE on undocumented students, and so much more.”

“… with this budget, once again, you are ignoring what millions of parents, teachers, and students are asking for. You have instead proposed more $4 billion in cuts to elementary and secondary education.”

“This budget is another example of an empty promise made by this Administration to address the senseless gun violence devastating families, schools, and communities around the country…

After the tragic Parkland shooting, you said Congress should hold hearings on gun and school safety, so in a show of good faith, I urge you to commit to testify in front of the HELP Committee on what meaningful gun safety reform we can enact to help end this scourge of violence in our schools.”

“…while your discretionary budget cuts $7.7 billion in federal investments in education, you are proposing $1 billion for programs that align with your personal agenda—but are not authorized by the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act. A little more than two months ago, Congress rejected virtually the same proposals in the bipartisan spending bill.”

Full text below of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Thank you, Chairman Blunt, and thank you, Secretary DeVos, for joining us today.”

“It is now 16 months since you were confirmed by an unprecedented tie-breaking vote as Secretary of Education. You were confirmed despite millions of students, parents, and teachers around the country who spoke up in opposition to your extreme ideological commitment to privatizing public education, and who were concerned about your lack of experience in educating, or in advocating for public schools.”

“Unfortunately, instead of taking those concerns to heart, you have doubled down on your harmful agenda and filled your Department with for-profit college executives and lobbyists looking out for their former employers and clients. This couldn’t be clearer when looking at your actions over the past year and the budget you are here to defend today.”

“Secretary DeVos, since you were confirmed, we have seen a barrage of actions out of your Department that hurt both students and taxpayers.”

“You continue to prioritize your extreme privatization agenda—which would siphon taxpayer dollars away from public schools. You are ignoring the parts of our nation’s K-12 law—the Every Student Succeeds Act—that help ensure equity in our schools. You have made it easier for predatory for-profit colleges and student loan companies to take advantage of students, by rolling back a number consumer protections and effectively dismantling the unit that investigates claims of fraud and abuse.”

“You have taken a number of extremely concerning steps to undermine civil rights protections for students, including attempting to scale back the Office for Civil Rights, rescinding guidance protecting transgender students, making it easier for schools to once again sweep sexual assault under the rug, saying it’s a local decision to call ICE on undocumented students, and so much more.”

“Now, I want to turn to the budget you are proposing for next year. I’m disappointed how similar this budget looks to what you proposed last year—which this Committee soundly rejected.”

“After years of budgets for education not keeping up with needs, we are now seeing teachers and parents around the country organizing and standing up for public education, because our kids shouldn't be forced to learn in crumbling classrooms with shabby textbooks, and our teachers should be paid fairly for the important work they do. And yet, with this budget, once again, you are ignoring what millions of parents, teachers, and students are asking for. You have instead proposed more $4 billion in cuts to elementary and secondary education.”

“I don’t have time to name them all, but your budget would eliminate programs that help teachers grow and improve their teaching skills, grants that support before and after-school programs, and investments that support low-income undergraduates.”

“This budget is another example of an empty promise made by this Administration to address the senseless gun violence devastating families, schools, and communities around the country. President Trump has continued to give into the demands of the NRA, your gun safety commission has yet to take any real action steps, and now your budget would eliminate grants used to improve student safety—for the second year in a row.”

“After the tragic Parkland shooting, you said Congress should hold hearings on gun and school safety, so in a show of good faith, I urge you to commit to testify in front of the HELP Committee on what meaningful gun safety reform we can enact to help end this scourge of violence in our schools.”

“Finally, while your discretionary budget cuts $7.7 billion in federal investments in education, you are proposing $1 billion for programs that align with your personal agenda—but are not authorized by the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act. A little more than two months ago, Congress rejected virtually the same proposals in the bipartisan spending bill.”

“So Secretary DeVos, I have many questions on why you have once again put forth a budget that will hurt students and families, and I look forward to your responses.”