I had hoped that name-dropping the name of his former Assistant Secretary of Education might help our cause. I had hoped that telling him I’ve supported him in every election he’s been in since his walk across Tennessee might sway him (Ok, I was 10, but I gave out bumper stickers to people who wanted them,–which wasn’t an easy feat in a small Democratic town.) I even had an “I’m in Alexander’s Band” sticker on my trumpet case in middle school! I remember shaking his hand when he walked through my hometown in his red and black flannel shirt, and attended a tea with my mom to honor his wife Honey.
Unfortunately, it didn’t. I tried, ya’ll. I made my voice known. I wrote a letter to Senator Alexander to tell him that we didn’t want Betsy DeVoss as our Secretary of Education. He sent me the following e mail:
January 19, 2017
Thanks very much for getting in touch with me and letting me know what’s on your mind regarding President-elect Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos to become the next Secretary of Education.
Betsy DeVos is an excellent choice. The Senate’s education committee will move swiftly in January to consider her nomination. Betsy has worked for years to improve educational opportunities for all children. As Secretary, she will be able to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new law fixing No Child Left Behind, just as Congress wrote it, reversing the trend to a national school board and restoring to states, governors, school boards, teachers, and parents greater responsibility for improving education in their local communities. Under the new law, the federal government may not mandate or incentivize states to adopt any particular standards, including Common Core.
I also look forward to working with her on the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, giving us an opportunity to clear out the jungle of red tape that makes it more difficult for students to obtain financial aid and for administrators to manage America’s 6,000 colleges and universities.
Improving our schools has been one of my top priorities in public service, both as a U.S. Senator and during my earlier service as governor, president of the University of Tennessee, and U.S. Secretary of Education. Better schools mean better jobs, which is why I have worked to support states and school districts in improving education so that our students have the tools they need for success.
We are unleashing a new era of innovation and excellence in student achievement—one that recognizes that the path to higher standards, better teaching and real accountability is classroom by classroom, community by community, and state by state—and not through Washington, D.C. I appreciate your taking the time to let me know where you stand. I’ll be sure to keep your comments in mind as this issue is discussed and debated in Washington and in Tennessee.
Looks like he’s going to confirm this nomination. Bummer.