Two top ranking Democrats late last week requested more information from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on her recent comments about possibly restructuring the Department of Education (ED) and federal programs.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee signed the letter, which is dated February 24.
In the letter, Murray and Scott discuss a recent interview DeVos gave in which she stated that she can “guarantee that there are things that the Department has been doing that are probably not necessary or important for a federal agency to do.” DeVos also said during the interview that she will be “examining and auditing and reviewing all of the programs of the Department” to determine which functions are unimportant and unnecessary.”
DeVos’ comments “raise questions on the purpose or goal of the review or the criteria by which you will be judging programs and units for their importance, mission, and efficacy, as well as any involvement or consultation of stakeholders, including seeking input from parents, teachers and staff of education systems, students, advocates, and community members,” Murray and Scott wrote.
The lawmakers also expressed concern about the impact the Trump administration’s current hiring freeze of most federal civilian employees will have on ED, as well as reports that the administration is planning to eliminate the position of Under Secretary and reduce the number of deputy assistant secretaries.
“The Department exists to serve students, parents, teachers, communities, and taxpayers,” Murray and Scott wrote. “Qualified and effective staff is critical to fulfill the Department’s mission and responsibilities.”
Murray and Scott requested in their letter that DeVos provide answers to a lengthy list of questions related to her potential audit and subsequent actions, and asked that she respond by March 3. The complete list of questions can be found in the letter.
They also requested that DeVos publicly publish the audit’s methodology and results, and brief the following congressional committees on the results before final decisions are made:
Publication Date: 3/1/2017