Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for education secretary, would not commit to continuing to fund America's public schools during her Senate confirmation hearing.
Asked by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington whether she would continue to fund public education, DeVos, a staunch supporter of private school vouchers and charter schools, said she would work to “address the needs of all parents and all students.”
She added: "We acknowledge today that not all schools are working for the students that are assigned to them, and I'm hopeful that we can work together to find common ground and ways that we can solve those issues and empower parents to make choices on behalf of their children that are right for them."
"I take that as not be willing to commit to not privatizing public schools or cutting money from education," Murray replied, according to NBC News.
"I guess I wouldn't characterize it in that way," DeVos said.
During the hearing, DeVos argued that school vouchers for private and religious schools offer poor families an opportunity to get the same quality and choice of education that wealthier parents can afford.
DeVos described a visit to a Christian school in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, that made her a proponent of school choice.
“We saw the struggles and sacrifices many of these families faced when trying to choose the best educational option for their children,” she said, according to The New York Times. “For me, this was not just an issue of public policy but of national injustice.”
DeVos is the daughter Edgar Prince, who founded the Michigan-based Prince Corporation, an auto parts business that sold for $1.35 billion in 1996, and the wife of Dick DeVos, the billionaire heir to the Amway fortune, according to The Intercept. She has donated more than $200 million to Republican candidates and has been criticized for having no background in education to make her fit to be education secretary.
“DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools,” said Randy Weingarten, president of the American Federation for Teachers, in a press release. “The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan.”