Skip to main content

tv
Betsy DeVos
Archive
  Education Secretary Pressed on Protections for LGBTQ Religious Minorities  CSPAN  June 6, 2017 10:02am-12:28pm EDT

10:02 am
10:03 am
the appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education related agencies will come to order. good morning to everybody, particularly good morning secretary devos for you and thank you for appearing before the subcommittee today.
10:04 am
this is a difficult budget request to defend. last month the president signed into law an appropriations bill that included $161 billion in discretionary funding for this subcommittee. while that was a billion dollars less than we had the year before, we were able to eliminate programs and prioritize programs in a way that allows us to do things like return to year round pell. first time in nine years where students who begin this fall will have the opportunity to have the pell grant available to them year round. this year, the fiscal year 2018 budget request proposes a significant funding decrease in labor, hhs, approximately $24 billion below what we're spending in the current year in the agencies that reflected in
10:05 am
the work of this subcommittee. that's a 15% cut below the bill we passed just last month, or passed the end of april. for the department of education, the proposal includes approximately $59 billion which is a $9.2 billion reduction. you know, you not only get to start as -- with a new look at the department of education, but also with a new look at what we should be doing -- we're glad you're here to talk about that. but i think it's likely that the kinds of cuts that are proposed in this budget will not occur. so we really need to fully understand your priorities and why they are your priorities. the committee will continue to have priorities. i think that the significant reductions for programs like career and technical education,
10:06 am
trio, and federal work study will make it harder for students to get into and complete college and go into well-paying jobs. the out right elimination of programs like the 21st century community learning centers i think will be all but impossible to get those kinds of cuts through this committee. but you were given this budget, and i know you had some input, but your input would have been late and your view of these issues as you get a chance to run the department every day will bring the ability -- the ability to bring more and new information to the committee. over the last two years, the subcommittee's increased funding for charter schools from $253 million to $342 million. i'm interested to learn more about your broader proposals for more choice in school.
10:07 am
and, finally, i think many of the members on this committee look forward to realigning the department of education's role in the education system generally. you know, i believe education systems should be made closer to students and families. and local school districts. often i think the state capitol is too far away for decisions to be made. and certainly washington, d.c. would be an even bigger challenge to make decisions that affect students and their families and their education all over the country. so we look forward to hearing your testimony today. i'm sure we'll have a lively discussion. and pleased to turn to my partner on this committee, senator murray for what comments she may want to make. >> thank you very much chairman blunt. thank you secretary devos for joining us today. secretary devos, as you know, i
10:08 am
was very clear during your confirmation process that i had serious concerns with your extreme ideological commitment to privatization our public schools. your extensive financial conflicts of interest and your lack of understanding of the role of the federal government in protecting the civil rights of students across the country. i wasn't alone. millions of parents and teachers across the country stood up, they rallied, they sent letters, they called their senators. so much that the senate switch board was overwhelmed and made it very clear that they opposed your vision for our students and our schools and strongly supported public education in america. when it came to a vote, every single democrat voted no. we were joined by two of my republican colleagues who are long time members of this committee and the committee who cited concerns. the vice president had to come and break a tie on a cabinet nomination. secretary devos, i was hoping
10:09 am
you would enter your role of secretary with an understanding your extreme anti-public school agenda and your opposition to the federal government playing a role in helping students just didn't have the support of congress or people across the country. and i was hoping that instead of trying to jam it through anyway, you would work with us and join us at the table and share information and be a true partner in implementing our nation's education laws, investing in our students and our teachers and schools and helping all of our students succeed. but secretary devos, i and many others have been extremely disappointed with what we've seen these past few months. you have not backed away from your unpopular and unsupported agenda. you've not made any attempt to compromise or work with us in good faith. you continue to allow potential conflicts of interest and ethical problems to exist in your department. you have failed to ask questions
10:10 am
democrats have asked you. you backed away from commitments you made in your confirmation hearing. this budget that you're here to defend which has been attacked i believe is just the latest example. so there are many issues people want answers to. from the people that you've hired, including your senior counselor who came straight from a for profit college under multiple investigations and who you have charged with overseeing regulations impacting his former employer. rescinding gliuidance, protecti transgender students after telling us in your confirmation hearing you said you stood by protecting students. i'm going to spend my time today asking you about your budget
10:11 am
proposals because they highlight the ways the policies and priorities you and president trump are pushing would hurt students, would hurt our communities, and represent a clear broken promise to workers and the middle class. your anti-public education plans. about a year and a half ago, congress overwhelmingly passed the every student succeed acts to finally fix the broken no child left behind law. it wasn't perfect but it was an important step to provide flexibility for our states and districts while maintaining strong federal guardrails to make sure students could not fall through the cracks, no matter where they lived or how they learned or how much money their parents make. instead of working with us to implement this bipartisan law and build on it, your budget proposal will continue the work you've already started to under cut dramatically. instead of seeking common ground in an area that should not be partisan, your budget proposes policy similar to those that were roundly rejected on both
10:12 am
sides of the aisle during our debate, like privatization and portability. after republicans spent years lam basting the department of education for using federal dollars as a tool for motivating states and after you promised not to do this in your confirmation hearing when you were asked about it by senator dat cassidy, this budget does that. it takes hundreds of millions of dollars from low income school districts and holds it hostage unless states agree to your extreme ideological agenda. i'm going to be asking you to explain that. i want further clarity on your very confusing statements regarding whether or not you believe your privatization plans for the eir program could cause students to lose their federal civil rights protections. i'm going to be asking you to explain the massive cuts you propose to investments across the board, impacting students of all ages.
10:13 am
the budget would cut investments in our students and schools by $9.2 billion. 13% from where we are today. i couldn't list them all but it includes more than $3 billion in cuts in k-12. among these cuts are $2.1 billion from state grants for effective instruction investments and entire program eliminated that provides support and professional development for our teachers and school leaders. $1.2 billion from 21st century community learning centers. eliminating investments supporting before and after school programs and extended learning opportunities for almost 2 million students across the country. $190 million completely eliminating the striving readers comprehensive literacy development assessments which i am passionate and work with republicans to strengthen.
10:14 am
$400 million in student support academic enrichment grants, authorized under title iv to improve student safety and well-rounded education and a lot more. it's not just k-12 that's under attack in this budget. this proposal would make higher education less affordable by taking $3.9 billion from the pell grant program and freezing the maximum award. eliminating the supplemental education opportunity grant program, which provides nearly a billion dollars in federal and institutional funds to 1.6 million low income undergraduates. cutting federal work study in half. increasing student debt by another $143 billion by making many students pay more interest, pay back longer, and eliminating public service loan forgiveness. and this budget cuts investments in students with disabilities, including $113 million to special education grants to our
10:15 am
states, pushing more cost to our states and local communities. $27.5 million for grants that help those students with disabilities that we included in our bipartisan bill which is not being done throughout any other programs. finally, this budget even eliminates all support for special olympics programs in our schools. i'll be asking about a lot of these, i know many of my colleagues will. but this budget, i believe would be devastating for our students and take away opportunities for so many families in this country. so i hope that after hearing from a lot of parents across the country and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle you'll reconsider this approach. and come back to us with a budget that actually works for our students and reflects our values and our priorities as a country. thank you. >> well, we're pleased to have the chairman of the full committee with us and the
10:16 am
ranking democrat on the full committee, chairman cochran. do you have any statement you'd like to make? >> mr. chairman, i am concerned about our challenge that we have to deal with, the reality of a budget process that hems us in with a budget resolution in terms of authorization to appropriate funds. we have children ready to be educated throughout our state and everybody's state. and we need to train teachers and support the training of teachers. and so there are federal programs that are legitimate and needed to be on the front burner for the support and strengthening of our federal programs that help us teach our children. i guess i come at this from a biassed point of view and i plead guilty. i had a grandmother who was a
10:17 am
teacher, wonderful elementary school teacher in mississippi. my father was a county superintendent of what was then the largest public school district in the state of mississippi. my mother was a math teacher and came up to the university of mississippi with two children, me and my brother, tagging along with our father for graduate work for our parents. and we would get into class rooms and act like we were students. thinking that we were just as smart as some of the students were. the whole point is, we all have so much invested through our families, through our organizations back in our home state. so we've got our work cut out for us. and i plan by best efforts to squeeze this through the area that we can make improvements in
10:18 am
and take a hard look but at the same time realize we need to get a bill. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, chairman. senator leahy? >> thank you, chairman blunt and ranking member murray. and i agree with chairman cochran. we have a difficult task ahead of us, but i know what i point out to all the ranking members and my role as vice chairman that what senator cochran and i are doing, every cabinet member this is where they're actually going to get a chance to testify, before our appropriations committee. so i appreciate this opportunity. i feel very unfortunate the president's proposed budget p y displays a fundamental rack of understanding of a government of
10:19 am
by and for the people in supporting the middle class. li leaving out the most vulnerable among us. service o we know sequestrations had devastating consequences. consequences are going to last a generation or more. but i'm afraid the trump budget only extends and deepens those problems. and i think the budget proposal for the department of education can be summed up very quickly in one word. abysmal. the submission from the department of education would reduce federal education spending by more than 13%. the budget proposed approximately $4 billion in cuts to investments and programs to support public schools. recently we authorized by the bipartisan, bipartisan every student succeeds act while
10:20 am
proposing new discretionary funding for the administration's school privatization agenda and policies that promote vouchers and school choice. i think that's an insult to school age children across the country. president trump has said that education is a civil rights issue of our time. and i agree. education can and should be a great equalizer. but federal investments and public schools are intended to support all students, not just a few privileged ones. and they're intended to close achievement gaps, many disadvantaged students face when entering school. and this budget turns its back on millions of people of hard working families. it cuts money from the vast majority of school districts that do not fall, ill advised choice proposals.
10:21 am
well, secretary devos, you ought to come to a rural area like vermont when skilchools may be hour or more away from where people live. school choice is not under any circumstances an option. especially in the middle of winter we may have had ten inches of snow overnight. holding title one funds hostage to a school choice agenda especially when it's been previously rejected in a bipartisan vote by congress. it's going to leave the most vulnerable students in school districts behind. and those cuts were not enough you'd also greatly reduce fundings for programs which states and schools relies, specifically those that support public education. after school programs, senator murray mentioned special olympics education program.
10:22 am
programs to train principals and school leaders among others. it cuts $4 billion from pell grants. eliminating or reducing support for other student aid programs. you know, the best way to create a foundation for greatness is the trump budget purports to do is to continue investing in markmar america's schools and children. as vice chairman i'm going to look to put that in. i look forward to working with other members of the committee on both sides of the aisle as we have in the past. i want today fulfill that goal. you're not going to fulfill the goal for america, making america great by cutting out opportunity for our children and for our schools. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator laheahy. i want to welcome secretary devos. this is her first time to
10:23 am
testify before this subcommittee. secretary devos has been involved in educational advocacy for three decades where she worked to create new educational opportunities for students and families across the country. glad you're here and i look forward to hearing your testimony. >> thank you, mr. chairman. members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the administration's fiscal year 2018 budget proposal. i look forward to talking about how we can work together to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all students. while also refocusing the federal role in education. today's hearing is meant to focus on the numbers and mechanics of the budget. but i hope we'll all remember our goal and chairshared purpos. during my house appropriations subcommittee hearing i relayed the story of one of those students, a young man named michael who grew up in east
10:24 am
hartford, connecticut. michael described to me what life was like for him hin high school. i quoted him last month and i will quote him again because his words are worth repeating. he said his assigned high school was and i quote, nothing more than adult daycare. a dangerous daycare. and even though michael was failing his classes, his school graduated him anyway. he got a diploma but not an education. since sharing michael's story this young man has been deraubad by attacks. he wrote an op-ed published in this sunday's hartford current where he admonished his attackers writing, rather than getting into a defensive crouch at perceived sloitights, let's admit thesis problems exist. let's give the kids and families who feel trapped the opportunity
10:25 am
to find something better. let me be clear, my relaying of michael's story is not a blanket indictment of public schools. of connecticut schools or even east hartford high school. just as the rest of michael's story, the story of his profound success, which has gone largely unreported, is not a blanket endorsement of community colleges of the florida system of higher education or of valencia college where he's now in the school's honors program. what michael's story is is the real-life situation far too many students face. they're trapped in an education system that for whatever reason is not serving them. and they have no other choices. in 2017, in america, we can and we must do better. i'm proud to stand with michael. students like him are why i'm passionate about reforming education. so i ask you to keep michael and the countless others like him in
10:26 am
mind as we go about our shared work to support america's students. this budget lays out a series of proposals that work toward making sure each student has an equal opportunity t. focuses on returning decision making power and flexibility to states where it belongs and giving parents more control over their child's education. a right that's been denied for too long. if taxpayer money were limitless we wouldn't need a budget. by its very definition a budget reflects the difficult decisions of how best to appropriate the limited taxpayer dollars we have. this budget does so by putting an emphasis on programs that are proven to help students while taking a hard look at those that are well-intended but haven't yielded meaningful results. the president's fiscal year 2018 budget would reduce overall funding for department programs by $9 billion or 13%. and i'd like to outline for you the principles that guided our
10:27 am
decision making. first, our request would devote significant resources toward giving every student an equal opportunity for a great education. it emphasizes giving parents more power and students more opportunities. second, the administration's request recognizes the importance of maintaining strong support for public schools through long-standing state formula grant programs focused on meeting the educational needs of the nation's students, including poor and minority students and student with disabilities. our request builds evidence of what works in education. this also means strong support for the research and data collection activities of the department. fourth, our request reduces the complexity of funding for college while prioritizing efforts to help make a college education accessible through programs like year round pell.
10:28 am
consistent with our commitment to improve the efficiency of the federal government our request would eliminate or phase out 22 programs that are deplicative, ineffective. all told, taxpayers will save $5.8 billion. in total, the president's budget fulfilled his promise to devolve power from the federal government and place it in the hands of parents and families. it refocuses the department on supporting states in their efforts to provide a high quality education to all of our students. it's time to unleash a new era of creativity in education. my hope is that working in concert with you, we can make education in america the envy of the world. thank you again for the opportunity to share the administration's vision for improving education across the country, i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you, secretary. you mentioned year round pell. let me say a couple thing husband about the time on the
10:29 am
questions. we'll have a round of five minute questions. we'll stay close to that. we have a few committee here we need to stay close to that. fry to leave time for questions. if you've got a three minute answer you're probably not going to hear it here today. if you want, questions will be done as near as possible during the five minutes and that includes mine so i better get started i'm down to 4:30. you mentioned year round pell. i think in terms of what we did in the appropriatation for this year, returning to the year round-pell grant gives people a real greater likelihood they get that done. everything that you do that doesn't disrupt the pattern
10:30 am
that's working, increases the odds that you're going to actually achieve your goal of getting that degree and graduating in my state and i think in most of our states if you qualify for year round pell, every community college we have in missouri, you get all your tuition paid, money for your books, fees paid, and a little money left over. at least one of our four year schools year round pell pays all of those things toward a four year degree as well as two year degree and others. so i'm wondering, i hope we have maximum flexibility as you come up with the implementation rules on year round pell. i'd like to hear where you are on that. i'm very concerned, be watching closely that we don't have a lot of needless extra hoops to get that summer semester or that third semester in that you didn't have access to for the last nine years now.
10:31 am
>> senator, thank you. thank you so much for that question and for your sharing the concern that we meet students' needs and recognize the reality of education for many students today. by implementing year round pell we do get non-traditional students. let's face it more students entering higher education today are considered non-traditional. give them the flexibility to set their own pace for their education. and complete their education as quickly or as over an extended period of time as they need to do so. and so you have my commitment in implementation of it we will honor the intent of congress in insuring that we leave and grant the maximum amount of flexibility to the students and recognizing their needs today. >> that would be good. having the rules in place, i do know as people are thinking about entering the fall
10:32 am
semester, the school is already thinking about what their summer program should look like, if they return to the kind of student numbers they had before year round pell was eliminating. the more they know how easy the implementation is going to be the better off we'll be. now the pell grant is just that, it's grant, it doesn't have to be paid back. loans do have to be paid back. we've been working with the department do create more competition in loan servicers. and among loan servicers, on may 19th, the department of education put out a new proposal where there would be only one principle servicer. i'm inclined to think that is not the best direction to go. why did you make that decision as opposed to letting the department as it has been doing, allocate loans to servicers who are having the best experience and the best results?
10:33 am
>> senator, good question. that process was begun well before i arrived at the department. and in examining what had happened to date, the process was very complicated, confused, and was in fact moving to a sing single servicer. we have proposed through the amendment that was put out on may 19 that we will be reexamining that process and those bids for the servicing arrangement. our contention is that the method of servicing before with the department being the host so to speak to four different servicing platforms who went out and employed and engaged a number of other providers, became much more complicated for students to actually interact with. and was not servicing the
10:34 am
customers, the students well. through a single servicer, that servicer will be able to engage a wide variety of contractors to work with. they will have sole accountability instead of having four different points of accountability, we believe that this is going to bring much more effective and efficient service to the students. and in fact, provide a higher level of competition ultimately and greater level of accountability. >> well, i don't know that i agree with that. but we can talk about that later. senator murray i'm going to lead by example here and stop the clock on myself. >> all right. thank you. secretary, your budget makes multiple requests for authority that is not provided in our bipartisan essa bill including a request to manipulate the research program to create this new $250 million private school voucher proposal. you've made some very confusing
10:35 am
and concerning comments about how you see the role of the federal government in protecting students. so i want to be very clear and just yes or no, my time is limited. will you require all schools participating in this voucher program to comply with idea? >> absolutely. >> and will you require all schools participating in this voucher program to comply with civil rights laws, including title ix that protect against discrimination based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender ability. >> yes, but let me also clarify. there is no specific proposal under that line item. it is really appropriations language and the intend of that a line item is to use -- to explore and experiment with -- >> you're going to be creating new regulations. let me be very clear for this voucher program, correct? >> it won't necessarily be a voucher program specifically. that is really appropriations
10:36 am
language. it's intended to be a choice program and to -- >> $250 million private school -- >> as part of the research budget that will help us -- >> all right. my -- >> opportunities are working for students. >> you're seeking authority for a new federal program. it's paid for my by constituents. this question can't be left to states. the authority you are requesting says you the secretary, will establish requirements for this new program. so should this voucher program ever come to be despite the opposition of a lot of people, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, will you require these schools receiving these funds to follow the i.d.a.? >> any institution receiving federal funding is required to -- >> through a voucher program or anything else -- >> -- required to follow federal
10:37 am
law. >> discriminating against students, you will not allow. >> let me be clear schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law. >> even through a voucher program. >> period. >> more than half of our public schools, your budget proposed a cut of $578 million in this funding for districts that don't adopt your proposed policy said. are you aware your budget would result in these cuts? >> i think, senator, we have a confusion here between the budget numbers that we were working with prior to the continuing resolution that was passed by congress. so the intention is to fully fund title one. >> this is a $578 million -- >> it's not -- >> this is not planned with math. we're basing our numbers on the actual real world. right now.
10:38 am
the numbers that we passed -- >> this budget is based upon the numbers prior to that implementation in late april. >> something that was never implemented into law. this cut is $578 million less based on current law, real world. and, you know, that's -- that can't be played around with. everyone knew that the $450 million in school improvement funding would be consolidated. it's the law of the land in both the house and senate bills provided that funding. yet this budget is just choosing to ignore that fact and playing with numbers. and would result in a cut to title one school districts that don't adopt your proposed policies. i just have -- >> senator, let me just say. that's incorrect. the budget numbers you received were based upon the numbers you had prior to april.
10:39 am
>> we're playing with real world here. >> the intention is to fully fund the title one -- >> based on numbers that don't exist. we can't play math with this. this is real world. let me ask you, i have a few second left. many republicans actually attacked president obama's budgets proposing programs that were not authorized in federal law. but you not only cut the legs out from the bipartisan essa with these massive cuts, you also proposed programs similar to one that congress already debated and rejected. you claim your budget is focused on offering states and schools this flexibility. then you propose holding a billion dollars hostage for states in districts to conform to youri ideology. that's correct, right? >> no, the billion dollars was
10:40 am
intended to be in addition to the title one funds that would be fully funding, again, i refer back to what i said before that we were working with numbers that congress had not acted at the time -- >> you and i disagree on basic math. let me -- >> it's a billion dollars in addition to fully funding the title one -- >> well, i'm over time. what do you tell republicans who feel strongly that the federal government shouldn't use federal education dollars to bend states and school districts to their will? >> it is a totally voluntary program on the part of states, nobody will be coerced into using -- >> these are federal dollars -- >> no state would be forced to utilize it or to enact anything as a result. >> thank you. senator cochran. >> mr. chairman, it's a pleasure for me to join you and other members of the committee.
10:41 am
and congratulating dr. devos for being here and being able to accept the responsibilities of being in her position. she's contributed voluntarily a lot of time and effort to organizations like the kennedy center for performing arts, where i served with her on the board of directors. we have to depend upon a lot of volunteers in programs in our education area many federal programs are looked to to solve serious problems that really are responsibilities of state and local governments. anyway, i want to join those who congratulate you for your agreement to serve and to work
10:42 am
to help the department identify ways we can improve teacher recruitment. student encouragement of moving on to graduate degrees and other programs such as childhood education. so the opportunities are there for lack of meaningful work and i assure you this committee will i think, in a positive way, work with you to help make your service as secretary a great success. >> thank you, chairman. >> senator durbin. >> thank you very much. madam secretary, welcome. madam secretary, i think we're facing a student loan crisis in america. let me tell you why. student loan debt now is greater than credit card debt in america. the $1.3 trillion over 42
10:43 am
million americans owes student loan debt. in the year 2016, the number of defaults on student loan repayments increased by 14% over the previous year. the average amount that students owe when they finish college has been growing dramatically year after year after year. when i look at the trump budget, the one that you brought before us today, i can find no relief for students who are facing this debt. in fact, just the opposite is true. when you freeze the pell grant, you require students to borrow more money to complete their education. when you eliminate the federal work study program, you eliminate an opportunity for students to reduce their debt by working. by getting their education and working. when you increase the interest payments that are going to be paid by students over ten years by $38 billion, in other words,
10:44 am
accumulating interest payments while they're in school, we don't do that to them now. but the new trump budget does. it means a greater debt at the end of the day. and finally, when you eliminate the public service loan forgiveness for students, those who want to go into teaching and nursing and critical professions don't get a helping hand. they're ignored and they have a bigger debt. but sadly that isn't the worst part of what's happened with the new department of education under the new president. here's something you ought to think about. the most heavily subsidized for profit companies in america today are for profit colleges and universities. 90% or more of their revenue comes directly from the federal treasury. these are not crafty entrepreneurs, they're people who have learned how to game the government. the only protection taxpayers have is in your hands. so here's two numbers i'd like
10:45 am
you to think about. 9% of students graduating from high school go to for profit colleges and universities. 9%. yet 35% of all student loan defaults are students from for profit college and universities. what's wrong with this picture? 9% of the students and 35% of the student loan defaults. yet when we look at your policies when it comes to the for profit college and universities, they're troubling. from the hiring of your counsel which has been raised by senator murray directly from that industry, to raising questions as to whether you're going to police the ranks of those schools that are exploiting students across the united states and continue to. whether it's a question of gainful employment so the students don't get so deeply in debt they don't have a chance do pay back their student loans. the defrauding of students by these schools that's been shown over and over again.
10:46 am
the question is, what are you going to do about this? attorneys general across the united states wrote you a letter on february 22nd of this year, spelling out in detail why your regulation of for profit colleges and university is critical to protecting students from crippling and debilitating stupidity de student debt. when i look at the trump budget, the new burdens that are being placed on students, i'm afraid the student loan crisis is going to get worse. please respond. >> senator, thank you. i'm not sure exactly what your question was there. let me just say that i totally agree with you that student debt and student loans are a -- of grave concern. i talked about that during my confirmation hearing. and i feel no differently now. in fact, i probably feel more strongly about the critical nature of the increasing student
10:47 am
debt -- >> your budget increases the interest burden of students. your budget freezes the pell grant so they have to borrow more. your budget -- >> the budget actually gives students a relief, well-defined and new way to address their student loans long term. their student debt long term through income driven repayment plan that would cap the repayment that 12.5% of their discretionary income. and after 15 years for undergraduates would be paid off. so it's a really specific plan that will allow students to address this. but i think the question and the issue is a much broader one. and i think that in the context of your discussions around a higher ed bill and higher ed reauthorization or starting afresh, this is a real area of concern and one to address.
10:48 am
we haven't done a good job of helping students to know what their full menu of options are when pursuing higher education. we've segmented out career and technical education in such a way that it seems like it's a lesser of two in that we've put a higher emphasize on four year college and university. and i think all of these areas are ones that we have to have robust discussion about as we consider how -- what is the proper role of the federal government in supporting students pursuing higher education in the future. and with the reality of today's world. >> senator shelby. >> thank you. madam secretary, thank you for your service and thank you for taking on a job that is so challenging. we all realize that. madam secretary, in your testimony, you stated that you support expanding educational options for low income families regardless of their zip code.
10:49 am
specifically you stated that you are committed to locally developed student centered charter school programs. in many rural areas in america, including my state of alabama, the infrastructure needed to establish and effectively run a charter school just doesn't exist. however, in some of these areas the established institutions of higher learning that know the unique needs of students. many of these rural areas are in need of alternative educational options that they don't have today. my question is, would you be open to examining the idea of a rural -- of rural institutions of higher education establishing charter schools to create community specific curriculum to serve the needs of young people? because a lot of it is not there today. >> senator, thank you for your
10:50 am
question. and to go right to the heart of the matter around giving parents more choices to find the right education for their child or children, i know that rural areas i know that rural areas have unique need and circumstances. often when we think about offering choices, we think about bricks and mortar and more infri infrastructure. maybe that's not the right answer for all communities. >> maybe they have the frein structu infrastructure but not the teachers. >> with regard to partnering with higher education for charter schools, i think that is a great idea to explore and would certainly encourage companies to look that the and i would also encourage exploration of providing virtual learning for classes that they capital necessarily hire a teacher for.
10:51 am
there are many different options and with technology, that's a lot wider band of options and would look forward to talking with you about how that might work. >> thank you. i'm going to shift to technical education. we have a lot of people going to the universities. my constituents generally tell me one of the greatest needs is a skilled workforce. a lot of the people aren't going to college but they need the skills fr skills for the marketplace. both president trump and you have stated strong support for career and technical education programs. however, this is troubling in the fiscal year, '18 budget proposal, there are large cuts to the career and technical education state grants program.
10:52 am
this provides resources to states and local institutions so they can determine how career and technical education programs best fit their communities, their work force and their needs. when your department was creating the '18 budget, what were the perceived implications of cutting the technical education program there. how does the department of education expect to be able to continue to effectively meet the nee needs of our state, all of our states, if you are going to cut the programs rather than improve them? >> senator, your right about the emphasis that we are placing on career and technical education and opportunities for students in that direction. while the budget does reflect a quut cut in career and technical support, it still maintains nearly $1 billion in the
10:53 am
programs and a special $20 million investment in stem programs and initiatives. more broadly speaking, there is an opportunity to look at how some of these efforts have been siloed between departments. the department of labor also has a lot of programs that have some overlap with this kind of education. we ought to be looking holistically about how to best support and advance the opportunities that students have through career and technical training. i had the opportunity to visit three really great community colleges that have great stem-related and community and technical-related programs. it was a pleasure and a joy to see how they partnered with the needs of the businesses in their
10:54 am
geographic area to meet the needs of stew accidents and tud supporting. >> do we need to tailor our educational system to the marketplace and the jobs an the demands for people? >> we know there are about 7 million jobs that require skilled training that are going unskilled. there is a real need to offer these opportunities and to have real good dialogue and communication between those that have the opportunities and those students that may not know about them today. >> thank you, senator shelby. senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary devos, you started your statement today talking about a young man named michael. i would like to tell you about a young man named raymond who wrote a letter about the summer's youth connection, which is a 21st century learning center in summersworth, new
10:55 am
hampshire and he talks about what a difference syc, which is what they call it, has made for him and the community. raymond says, growing up, life wasn't easy. never knowing my real parents, being poor and moving made life tough. i was ten when i moved from raymond to summersworth. i always felt like an outcast without any friends. i would see kids having fun, laughing, running around like they didn't have a worry in the world. i was there with everything on my shoulders. months of passing by a cafeteria filled with these kids after school, i decided to go in. i was greeted by a man that i would begin to look up to and become friends with. he gave me the paperwork to go the follows days. ever since that day, syc has been part of my life. without syc, summersworth
10:56 am
wouldn't be the same. it has had the biggest impact in this community. you talked about education programs needing to yield meaningful results. well, this 21st century learning center and dozens of others like this one for thousands of students in new hampshire has yielded meaningful results. yet, this budget that has been proposed would take away those opportunities for kids like r raymond. what should you say to raymond and other students who will no longer have a place to go after school who are going to go home without supervision, where they can get into trouble, because their parents aren't going to be home, who are not going to have the homework assistance, who are not going to have the help they need to succeed in school? what do you say to somebody like r
10:57 am
raymond? >> senator, thank you for that story and the opportunity that the flexibility the essa legislation affords for situations like this. i am hopeful that and i would encourage new hampshire as they have put their or are putting their essa plan together, think about what programs and what areas are best supported. they have a lot of flexibility. >> a state like new hampshire, i'm sorry to interrupt you but a state like new hampshire doesn't have the funds to put together program if you take away the federal dollars that support these at-risk kids. i want to follow up senator durban's question about student loan debt. in new hampshire, we have the highest, average, student loan debt in the country. we have more than 52000 students that receive subsidized loans from the department. we have an average of $36,000
10:58 am
per student graduating with student loan debt. why are you reducing opportunities for students to earn the money they need for college? >> senator, if i could refer back to one moment to the 21st century program. the reality is that less than hoff of the students that qualified are actually participating. of those that do, they attend very infrequently and there has been shown no outcomes in general. >> that data may be true nation-wide. that data is not true in new hampshire. why are you going to make the students in new hampshire suffer for the fact that there are programs in some places that aren't working as well as they should? isn't that the department's job to try and make sure those programs work the way they are supposed to for kids. in new hampshire, they are
10:59 am
working. >> new hampshire has the opportunity to support programs that are working. there is plenty of flexibility in the other funds going to new hampshire. >> there is flexibility if you have money. if there aren't dollars there, how can we support these kinds of programs? that's the challenge. when you eliminate knows efforts that are making a difference for students, whether it be students in college who need help with their student loan debt or at-risk kids after school. they don't have any other options. what do we tell those students who are going to see their lives changed and disappointed because these are no longer available? >> only 8% of the funding for education broadly comes from the federal government. 92%, the states. >> believe me, i understand, as a former governor who struggled
11:00 am
for years with trying to fund education in new hampshire, i totally get that. i also understand when a program is working for students and making a difference in their lives, to pull that rug out from under them with nowhere else to go is a defeat for the policy and the student. >> i am confident new hampshire will be able to figure that out if it is a really great program. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam secretary, welcome. first, a question about elementary and secondary education. i think the reason we got 85 votes for the law fixing no child left behind was because so many people from unions to governors were tired of so many orders from washington. you are going to be approving a plan from every state about how to spend its title one funds.
11:01 am
the law says you can only approve them. you can only fail to approve it if it doesn't follow the law. will you follow the law or will you be tempted to use your own policy ideas in approving or rejecting state plans? >> senator, we will be following the law and approve plans as congress has intended. >> while there is a waiver in the law for exceptional circumstances, we did not want the secretary of education conditioning the waiver by using the secretary's own ideas about bha what a community might do. will you respect the law saying you may not use the waiver to condition the receipt of federal funds to follow your own ideas of what a community might do? >> that's correct, sir. i will definitely respect that. >> madam secretary, we have talked before about this report the higher education community did. this was at the request of
11:02 am
senator mikulski and vern. give us specifics about what you don't like about the jungle of red tape that takes away money that interferes with them interfering the 6,000 colleges and universities, money that might be better used for students. about a dozen can be done solely by the secretary. four of the ten most important can be done solely by the secretary. i think you know what those are. they have to do with simplifying return of title 4 funds, updating financial responsibility standard, modifying distance education. another one that would stream line reporting data. will you make a priority and give your attention to the dozen
11:03 am
proposals within the report to get rid of the jungle of red tape in our education, the things that you can do yourselves? will you make that a priority? >> yes, sir, we are well under way with examining the steps to take to examine what has been recommended. with regard to one of them, look at all of the regulations that coincides with the president's exec tough order to review regulation regulations in every department. we have gun a deep dive into all of those. you have my commitment to continue that process. >> our authorization committee that senator murray and i chair, we hope to make higher education a top priority soon. there has been a lot of bipartisan work. senators have worked to take this 108-question college
11:04 am
application form that 20 million families fill out, we have an equal number of democrats and republicans that are ready to change this. we have suggested getting it down to two questions. our staff thinks they have it down to two dozen questions. will you work with us. the department can't do that all by itself. will you work with us to make a priority of getting rid of this unnecessary burden on families who are applying for federal student aid. >> absolutely. >> also, we have bipartisan proposals that would simplify the number of loans? this is also in the president's budget. that came after many hearings and simplify the number, the way
11:05 am
to repay federal student loans. i have had college presidents tell me they had a hard time repaying their kids student loans because it was so complicated. we have bipartisan consensus of cutting that down to two. so will you also work with us as we work through the higher education act to simplify the repayment of student loans and the number of student loans. >> yes, indeed. this contains the proposal to consolidate down to one repayment plan. i think it is a good step toward simplification. >> thank you, madam secretary. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator alexander. i think we will have after we are done with this first round, a chance for a second round of questions, if anybody has more questions and want to be sure and stay for that. we are going by order of attendance. so senator schatz is next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam secretary, thank you for
11:06 am
being here. as you know, the budget calls for $9 billion in cuts to the department of education. a point of clarification. is this your budget, an omb or a usdoe budget? this is your budget? >> this is our budget working in concert with omb. >> in the budget in several places it states that the programs that are cut to the tune of $9 billion could be supported by, quote, other federal, state, local, and private sources. this is contrary to the evidence. as you likely know, state funding for education has been declining at all levels. state, county and city. i know you know that there is not private foundation money to the tune of $9 billion a year. so how are we going to come up with $9 billion or do you think there should be $9 billion less spent in education overall? >> well, sir, i think that the
11:07 am
approach to the budget was to make some tough decisions and recognize that money is not limited and respect the taxpayer. >> that's not what you say. hold on one second. you said the programs that are cut could be supported by federal, state, local and private sources. you do fot say that we are in a constrained fiscal environment and we would like to spend more if we could. it seems there are sort of two ways to approach $9 billion worth of cuts. one is, we want to make $9 billion worth of cuts, in the best interest of public education and private education, because we think the federal government should play less of a role and the burden should shift to the private sector and to local does. that's one philosophy. the other is we don't have enough money. if we could, we would. >> what philosophy are you articulating? >> some of the programs that
11:08 am
have been recommended for scaling back or cutting are due olympic ka tiff and some are ineffective and some could be better supported by state, local or philanthropic efforts. >> do you include the cut of 30,000 teachers federally funded in that category of due olympic ka tiff or could be supported by some other entity? >> i don't know exactly what 40,000 teachers you are referring to. if you are talking about the teacher training program -- >> i'm talking about title 2. when it comes to 40,000 teachers salaries. >> for reducing class sizes? is that what you are trying to suggest? those funds have been used for a broad range of teacher initiatives. they have been very thinly spread and 20% of the cases, the
11:09 am
fund are less than -- are $10,000 to a school. there has not been evidence of great outcomes of effectiveness. through title 1 funds -- >> hold on. >> if i could just continue on to talk about the implementation of essa allows for great flexibility in the states to target resources to effect teacher training programs and teacher improvement programs. so there is a lot of opportunity to use them to enhance teacher's effectiveness. >> this goes back to what former governor shaheen mentioned, which is that you are imagining revenue not in evidence. you are imagining flexibility that does not exist at the local level. to say that 21st career
11:10 am
certainilearning centers or these dollars across the state to say it will be handled by increased flexibility through the state, you reduce the flexibility that education systems have by reducing the funding that they have. it is sort of a rhetorical device to say they will be basking in new flexibility. anybody who has run a government or a school doesn't want flexibility. they want resources and what you are doing is cutting them massively. >> what i have heard from a lot of state and local leaders is that they do want and need flexibility. >> thank you, senator schatz. >> thank you. senator langford? >> thanks for your service and for stepping up to be able to take on this. i would have to tell you, there is not a person on this dyess
11:11 am
that doesn't support education. we have 50 million students that are involved in elementary and secondary education and 20 million in higher education. that's an awful lot of families and people that are directly affected. we are all exceptionally passionate about this. also, in my short time of being in the appropriations budget, it is a fairly rare moment to sit in any hearing and have a conversation about how we reduce federal spending? it seems to be every request is, we need additional fund. there is always more to do. there noise question. for someone to come and say, we have to be able to find a way to serve students and the tax payers as well is a fairly rare conversation around these parts. let me ask for clarification. you brought up about the $1 billion increase in title one
11:12 am
funds dedicated to furthering options for children to unlock success. the question came out and you alluded to it earlier, how is this different than race to the top? there was a concern from this dyess that when president barack obama was putting in race to the top, it was really a requirement from the federal government. if you want these dollars, you have do our curriculum, do it our way. if you don't do it our way, you can't get the dollars that came out of your state to come back to your state. how is this different than race to the top? >> the proposal is very much voluntary on the part of states. it is only if states want to and local education agencies and authorities want to attempt an experiment really to allow students to attend other public schools in their region. it is in no way going to be mandated from the top if it is going to happen and how it is
11:13 am
going to happen. in order to do so, there has to be money to follow the child to the other school. that is the framework around which states or local districts would be able to opt in or adopt that part of it. >> does it give instructions to those states orren hits entitie curriculum and how to do testing requireme requirement sns. >> no. we have seen that movie. we are not going to do that again. >> grateful for that. there is a concern about the parent plus loan program. this is one of the things we are going to have to address in law as well. we want to be able to have the administration's assistance as we walk through this. many colleges talk about the growing size of student loans on those families. those are students taking it out. the colleges are made aware of the student loans. when you get to their parents in
11:14 am
the parent plus loans, that's not true. many parents in their 50s are acquiring $50,000 and $60,000 worth of student loans in addition to what their students have that will be garnished from their social security checks in the day's ahead based object the requirements. the colleges tell me they are not aware of that. they are able to work with students to limit their amount of student loans and to be able to counsel them. they are not made aware of the parent plus loans an they continue to accelerate. it is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. do you have any input or background? >> i'm aware of that issue. really, it plays into the much larger question about how students are prepared and informed for their higher ed options and alternatives. i think that as the higher ed bill or legislation is discussed, this is an area of concern that should be a part of that. >> we would love to have your cooperation on that.
11:15 am
we have to be able to resolve that. >> indeed. >> quick story. i had a superintendent at a predominantly african-american school district in this particular area of my state who came and caught me a couple of years ago and said, we have got to have your help. the office of civil rights is out of control. i had heard that from higher education, secondary schools and yet another student and principle. the comments are, we want to be able to honor every student but we are giving instructions from d.c. on how to manage things. the president specifically gave instructions to be able to review regulations. i would assume that this is going to be all regulations in all areas. i would tell you in particular in higher education, our universities work exceptionally hard to be able to make sure every student from every background is honored in the
11:16 am
process. they teal me over all me over an someone comes out to do a title 9 piece, they have been given be instructions from d.c. to stay there and find something and require the university to be able to write a letter. what i would like to work with you on in the days ahead, let's help them succeed an not put someone out there who will stay there until they find something to be able to put into a report. where there is a problem, let's correct it but let's not humiliate schools in the process. i would love to be able to continue to work with your office on ways that is coming out. >> i will welcome that opportunity, senator. >> thank you, senator langford. senator merkley? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, madam secretary. if a private school or charter school gets federal aid, they have to follow all the laws regarding discrimination. >> that's correct. >> i want to be absolutely clear about what you are saying.
11:17 am
are you saying if you have a private school, private schools general p generally set their own admission. they will not be able to discriminate against lgbtq students? >> i said it before and i say it again. schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law. >> federal law is foggy. will it be allowed? >> on areas where the law is unsettled this department is not going to be issuing decrees. >> is discrimination going to be allowed or not allowed? >> on areas of unsettled law, the congress has to decide and settle. >> are you refusing to answer the question? >> i am going back to what i said earlier. >> what you said earlier didn't help us. it is an area of unsettled law. you said where it is unsettled, such discrimination will continue to be allowed under your program. if that is incorrect, please
11:18 am
correct it for the record. >> how about discrimination based on religion? will such discrimination be allowed with charter or private schools? >> again, for schools that receive federal funds, federal law must be followed. >> what is that law in this case? will such religious discrimination be allowed? answer the question. >> schools that receive federal funds will follow federal law, period. >> you are refusing to answer the question. i think that is important for the public to know. today, the secretary of education before this committee refused to affirm she would put forward a program that would ban discrimination based on lgbtq status of students or would ban discrimination based on religion. >> that is not what i said. discrimination in any form is wrong. i don't support discrimination in any form. >> does your program ban such discrimination, yes or no? >> what program are you talking about? >> your charter school and your
11:19 am
private school grant program. >> as i said before, and let me say it again, schools that receive federal fund need to follow federal law, period. >> let's turn to your cost of college. you say that you want to reduce the burden of debt but you have established a new program that is actually the same program. we have an income-driven repayment program. you have made it more expensive. how does that help a student pay for college if you take an existing program and make it more expensive by $76 billion i might add. >> the proposal is to move to a 12.5 discretionary income program. it will sunset after 15 years versus 20 and it actually in the end ends up being less costly for students under the 15 years? >> let me point out that your budget takes $76 billion out of
11:20 am
that program by raising it from 10% to 12.5%. doesn't it require additional years if you have a graduate student loan involved. >> that's correct. >> isn't that 30 years. >> 30 years for graduate students. >> couldn't it be better for a student to do work study to reduce the amount of debt that they have but you cut in half the federal work study program? why not encourage students to be able to hold a job in college and reduce their debt rather than making them have a higher debt. >> we are proposing reducing the work study program but not eliminating it. >> a low income student struggling with massive debt, wouldn't that person be better off being able to work in college and reduce their debt? >> i think it is great for students to work in college. work does not spr have to be lid to on-campus activity. there are other opportunities. the work study program is
11:21 am
targeted to undergraduate students. >> the pell grant you put forward doesn't keep pace, because you freeze it for that time period, doesn't keep pace with the inflation. so students come from having pel cover roughly 30% to covering only 25%. doesn't that make it harder for america's students who are from work and struggling families to pay for college? >> we believe that having year-around options will help students get through school much more quickly if they choose to. the pel program is a very important program for students most in need. >> would you like to repropose a pel program that does keep pace with inflation so it covers the same percent? >> i think the max award is $5920. it is an important program that has received priority funding in
11:22 am
this budget. we want to continue to encourage those who are most vulnerable and the populations that are most in need of our support to pursue higher education but i go back again to what i said earlier on a broader scale. we have to do a much better job of talking with students early on about their wide range of options. >> thank you. my time has expired. >> secretary, your time has expired. senator merkley, your time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman and madam secretary. i want to say at the outset to thank you for the year-around pel initiatives. i think in a state like west virginia, that will have great meaning and certainly across the country. i do have to express some frustration. i have been trying to talk to you about a very specific situation that exists at west virginia state university regarding the upward bound program. upward bound has fupgsed nction the campus of western virginia
11:23 am
state university for 50 years. unbenounced to them, they have gotten knocked out of this program. their error on their work sheet, not even on their actual application was $104 over the maximum. a $104 on a worksheet has ended a 50-year relationship. i have co-signed two letters with my colleagues here in the senate because other upward bound programs are experiencing this great frustration. last week, you testified in the house that you were going to have a willingness to review these rejected applications and i am asking you for the same commitment today and if you have gun doing that? >> senator, thanks for the question. the upward bound situation as you know brought great frustration to me when i discovered that competition that was open and closed before i ever got in this role was rejecting applicants based on
11:24 am
formatting errors. we are talking about two different things here. formatting versus budget. the only way we could actually revisit the 77 applicants that were rejected because of formatting errors, was because of the action in the omnibus bill that specifically said to look again at the formatting errors and an additional appropriation in accompanying that. so we're talking apples and oranges here, unfortunately. thou i would love to be able to look that the one again, we can not. >> i don't accept that you can't relook at something. i have letters here from the students in that program, many of them students that have no options, parents that haven't gone to college. they, for the first time, their grade point averages have gone up. several of them are in really desperate family situations, where if it were not for upward bound, they would not have had
11:25 am
the opportunity or the aspirations to attend college and further their education. i'm asking again to lock at that one. i am asking and concerned about the 21st century learning centers. 7,000 kids in west virginia will not receive services because of this cut. you are talking about after school, many times when parents are not there, the mentoring, the fun, the nutrition, the leadership skills, homework help and all the things that occur in afterschool programs. it is a situation where if both parents are working, a lot of times we have so many single parents or grandparents that are raising children who can't be
11:26 am
home when the children get home. you mentioned the state is going to take that over, which she rejected because of funding issues. my state, senator manchin and our states, $500 million in the hole. this is not something we are going to be able to expand state-wide. we have also -- you questioned whether they are successful. of the higher education students that have participated in this program, in our state, there has been 100% graduation accomplishment, which is well above our state-wide average. i would ask you to relook at that. again, talk about 21st century and why that was zeroed out in our budget. >> thanks, senator. as i said earlier, the decisions in the budget proposal were based on some tough choices and tough decisions. looking at programs that for their effectiveness and the amount of students that are served and again the 21st
11:27 am
century learning plan or 21st century programs are really reaching only less than half of the students for whom they are intended. of half of the students that participate, there is very inconsistent participation on their part. we were really trying to focus on actual education settings, 21st century is before and after school. summertime, so forth. so not really focused on the core mission. as i said, tough choices. we made some tough choices and tough decisions around this. this one was deemed to be one that was not as effective and not as appropriate for funding proposal from this department. >> senator manchin. >> thank you, secretary devos for testifying today. one thing that keeps us
11:28 am
bipartisan here in the senate is veterans and children. we seem to really cross over and really want to help. i think we all very much care about that but one size doesn't fit all. i would like to welcome a couple of west virginians. we have pam shup from the playmates preschool and child development center in cerita, west virginia. she has her children, brendan and aiden with her. i hope you get a chance to meet with them. they are really quite something. rural schools, we have talked about rural schools, the cuts and all this that is coming. i know you still feel strongly about the school of choice. in states such as west virginia, a rural setting makes it hard. we don't have that luxury of having that choice, because we have a lot of schools consolidated already, closing
11:29 am
because of lack of students an things of this sort. with the cuts because of the support of the choice program in a state that doesn't have a choice program or an effective choice program that would work because of our ruralness. how can we make up that difference? is there any flexibility that you have that we could work to help some of the schools, programs that were cut, through the money that they are not going to be asking from you for choice? >> thanks for the question and more broadly, the question around rural schools, as you know, the special line item for rural schools has been maintained and is proposed to be the same as it was for the last year. that does provide rural schools the opportunity to do some things differently or in addition to what all of the funding through the other title plans do? when it comes to addressing specific needs in west virginia, i go back to the opportunity that the state has through its
11:30 am
essa plan to really target in and focus on addressing the needs that west virginian students have and the uniqueness there. the flexibility that is built in that you all put into that legislation to allow states and local districts to be able to do some things differently than before. i am hopeful that will see some creativity in that regard. >> let me talk about another subject here. every student succeeds act included a new program called the title 4 students support academic and enrichment grants program. the block grant is designed to provide state and school districts for well-rounded education. we are getting pummeled by the opiate addiction that goes on in our state and around this country. i understand the department stripped the funding from the block grant that can be used to
11:31 am
help states like mine that is being devastated by opiate addition. i don't know whether you realize the effect it is having in the family and the family support and why this was so important to try to build some type of a structure when it functionally has collapsed in the family or in the community because of opiate addiction. >> well, the issue of opiate addiction is a very concerning one to many communities. again, i go back to the contention that west virginia has an opportunity to really focus. >> they don't have the opportunity to do it. that's the problem, when you cut it. we all have well and good intentions, i understand. the state is facing some budget challenges like other states. these programs are so vitally important to stabilize a structure that has fallen apart. the opiate addiction that affects the child's family is
11:32 am
just devastating. >> the promised neighborhood program can help in that regard,ibregard, i believe. i also want to go back to a comment that was made earlier about state and local school budgets that are reducing and correct that. in fact, the spending estimate increase in state and local funding for education between this year and next year is expected to increase $21 billion in the state. so there is not a decrease in funding at the state and local level. there actually continues to be a greater investment on the part of state and local governments. >> we are going to hope that somebody from your department would come to west virginia and go through our department with them and explain that. they are looking at it as cuts. maybe there is some way we can work something out. we love to do that. i know my time is running out. i want you to consider medicaid in schools. medicaid in schools is sometimes the first line of delivery to
11:33 am
some of these children that get any type of health care. it is very, very concerning to us. i hope you would consider that. i would love to get with your agency and sit down and see if we can have a visit to west virginia. >> i would welcome that, thanks. >> kennedy? >> nang ythank you, mr. chairma madam secretary. thank you for your service. my research shows that the department of education's discretionary budget has quadrupled from fiscal year 1989 to the current fiscal year. it has gone from $17.1 billion to $68.3 billion. does that sound about right? >> that does sound about right, yes. >> i know that part of your job, the biggest part of your job is to advocate for education. also, part of your job is to manage taxpayer money. is that not the case? >> that is correct. >> now, when you were sworn in
11:34 am
and got comfortable at your department and you had a chance to go through the $68.3 billion budget, did you find waste? >> we are finding waste pretty regularly and part of the president's admonition to us is to actually do a whole review of the department and that has been an initiated and i expect in the coming months we are going to have a lot more to say about that. >> do you find it at all strange that in america now we seem to judge success and education by how much money we are spending as opposed to whether our kids are learning? >> i do find that strange. in fact, in the last administration, there was $7 billion invested specifically into schools that were failing or deemed failing to improve them. there was absolutely zero outcome from that investment. so, yes, the notion that spending more money is going to
11:35 am
bring about different results i think is ill-placed and ill-advised. >> what do we spend on average throughout america per public school student? i have read $12,000, $13,000? >> it is between $12,000 and $13,000, i believe. >> i read once that slovakia spends about half the money but we rank the same. have you seen that? >> i have seen those statistics, yes. >> you are aware, i'm sure, that some people don't like you because you support vouchers and charter schools? >> i am peripherally aware of that, yes. >> i have this theory about education in america. our problem is not higher education. we have got the best colleges and universities in the world. we have a problem paying for kids to go there. people from all over the world want to come here to further their education. our problem is elementary and
11:36 am
secondary education. americans have demonstrated that they can do extraordinary things. we can -- i was out at nih yesterday. we can unravel the human ginome. we can take a human heart and replace it with a new one and make that thing beat. we can send somebody to the moon and bring them back but we can't seem to teach our kids how to read and write and do basic math when we have got 18 years to do it. >> that's true. >> i don't understand that. now, i will support anything, and i suspect you are the same, i am willing to try just about anything to improve element tear
11:37 am
a elementary education, including vouchers and school of choice and charter schools. i can go down to my overpriced capitol hill grocery and choose among about six different types of mayonnaise. how come i can't do that for my kid in school? let me -- i'm almost done with my time. what percentage of the elected officials in america that give advice about elementary and secondary public education do you think really know what it is like to be in a classroom? >> i think that's a very good question. i don't have the answer to that but it is a really good question to ponder. >> would you support a bill that said that any oelected official we may have to narrow it down, any elected official that makes
11:38 am
policy for elementary and secondary education, should be required to substitute teach in a public school at least once a year? >> that would be an innovative approach for sure. >> now, i want you to understand. i'm not talking about going to a civics class and talking about how a bill becomes a law. you start at quarter to 7:00 and go to 2:45. you do lunch duty and bus duty and you teach four or five classes. it is you and the kids. >> that would be an interesting exercise for sure. >> we'll talk about it. i'm out of time. >> thank you, senator kennedy. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you, senator kennedy. senator baldwin. >> thank you. secretary devos, we had a chance to meet prior to your confirmation hearing and you and i talked about a lot of issues. one of the things that appeared to be an area of agreement was the importance of career and technical education, otherwise
11:39 am
known as cte. as a co-chair of the senate cte caucus, it is an issue of great importance to me and certainly to my home state of wisconsin. i look at your proposed budget cuts for the perkins career and technical education act. it is $168 million cut and the more than $1.5 billion in cuts through the elimination of the student support and academic enrichment grant and the 21st century community learning centers program that some of my colleagues have been asking you about from both sides of the aisle, both of these programs request be used to support stem education. instead, you propose an unauthorized $20 million competitive grant for career and technical education programs in stem fields. so i want to ask you how would
11:40 am
$20 million for competitive grants make up for or replace the more than $1.5 billion in formula funding for programs that could support career and technical education and stem education efforts in every state? >> senator, thanks for that question. let me reiterate, we do share the real interest in ensuring na students have all the options on the table for pursuing really great futures through career and technical education. >> i want you to speed up your answer because i have two more questions i want to get in in the time. so get to it. >> as we talk about higher education legislation, i think career an technical education need to be a part of that broader discussion. right now, we have a lot of efforts that really overlap this housed in the department of
11:41 am
labor and administered there. >> so you are suggesting that this $20 million competitive grant would do the job. >> disperse some innovation and creativity. it is meant to spur innovation, encourage and foster innovation and creativity. >> while eliminating the others. i want to get on to my next question. college affordability is a huge issue. your budget would make college less affordable for students in my state. it targets three campus-based programs, perkins loans, the federal work study program and the supplemental education opportunity grant, all of which allow campuses to target and fine-tune financial aid to students they know to be in need. sometimes saving from a situation where somebody is about to drop out. yet your budget slashes all of them, including the supplemental education opportunity grants.
11:42 am
it cuts work study in half and supports an end to the perkins loan program. that program, by the way, has provided over $60 million in aid to students in need in wisconsin this past academic year. it also cuts billions from other programs that make college more affordable like federal subsidized loans and public service loan forgiveness, which breaks a promise in my mind. just some of these cuts in aggregate in my home state would mean that we would lose about $107 million in fine napancial assistance to students. how do these truly drakonian cuts reflect anything other than an effort to push college further out of reach to more and more young people? >> the budget really seeks to make college and higher ed
11:43 am
options more flexible for students. the perkins -- >> the campus-based program. >> was not reauthorized. >> because they are controlled at the local level. >> the perkins funding was not reauthorized by congress. >> it is in effect right now. >> well, again, going back to the bigger picture, offering year-around pella and giving mo flexibility to students to pursue their education as quickly or over as long of a period they need, realizing that students today have different needs and are going to go about their higher ed in different manners, the other program to which you were referring, the ciag, is duplicate of pel. the students that get the most
11:44 am
out of it through the pel program -- >> secretary devos, i am going to cut you off. we have run out of time. i hope to get to a third question. i will submit it for the record relating to the title nine guidance to schools about the rights of transgender students. >> thank you. thank you for being here today, madam secretary. >> it strikes me, this whole debate about education. i approach it as someone who went to public school my entire life who would not have been able to go to college without pell grants. i paid sally may a lot of my money. over $130,000 in student loans. it strikes me. all these debates we have about education nowadays are basically about how much money we out or not put into a model of public education. one of the nuances. i'm not accusing you of this. the question is, how does this budget account for this reality that i see it with four children still in the k through 12 system. how does the budget account for this new reality that what we are dealing with is incredibly
11:45 am
nuanced and complex? i have three teachers in my family. thanksgiving and christmas is always interesting, one is an assistant principal, my sister. one of the things we do that the other countries don't do is we teach everybody. we should. there are places if you are disabled, if you don't get enough grades in second grades, they stop trying with you. we don't and should never do that. that makes us unique. children bring to the classroom everything, they bring it all. so if a child, here is the reality, if a child is living in a dangerous neighborhood in sub standard housing in a broken home, this child is going to struggle to learn unless there are things in place to assist them inside and outside the school. that costs money. not only does it cost money, it takes innovation to try to figure out what work nss in a certain place. this summer, right now, we are a few days awhiay from school letting out, if the kids don't
11:46 am
stay on school work, they are going to lose a lot of what they learned. we are able to afford some help in that regard. in years and years of these disparities build up, by the time a child is in 7th, 8th, 9th grade, they are literally behind the curve and do not have an equal opportunity of success because of so sc yo and economi problems. the reality of it is that the nuances are difficult and in particular as our society continues to change and become diverse. one of the things you experience, a reality, the best schools in miami-dade county where i live are public schools. a lot of people pay to take their kids out of those schools because they are paying for environment, because they have a bad perception that may not be based on reality or whatever it may be. there i excellent work happening at our public schools across this country.
11:47 am
in a country ha has become so diverse and so different geographically and along so many different lines, how does this budget account for that in terms of the federal role in incentivizing competition and innovation while still understanding in order to address some of the basic things in the school system -- if a kid does not have access to wi-fi, nowadays, they are going to struggle to be able to complete homework. if they don't have access to a computer network, an electronic device, they are going to struggle. that's a fact. among other things. a child is showing up to school hungry, if the child is homeless, living in an environment that is not conducive to learning. if a child doesn't have someone at night that's making sure they are doing their homework or following up or interacting with teachers, they are going to struggle struggle. the school system and government cannot step in and fill the entire gap. how does this budget account for this? we want an education system that
11:48 am
loves up to our motto that all of us are created equal and we all deserve the equal opportunity to fulfill our god-given potential. >> senator, thank you. i couldn't agree more with everything that you have just said about the students and our opportunities. this budget seeks to fund and give the greatest amount of flexibility to states and local authorities to make the decisions that are best and are going to be best for the students that they are serving. it seeks to turn over control and one size fits all top-down mandated approach that has been a part of this department for a number of years. and really recognize the fact that every student, every child is unique. it starts to in some ways help empower parents to make decisions for children, for their children not based on their zip code. the assigned school to which they are forced to attend
11:49 am
sometimes. it really does seek to shift that focus toward states, local communities, and more importantly to the parent to allow the parents to make the decisions that are right on behalf of their children. it certainly doesn't get us all the way there. i believe fundamentally that parents should have that empowerment and that right. we talk about parent allen gaugement. when parents have an investment because of a proactive decision they have made, there is a lot more engagement naturally as a result of that. >> my time has expired. not a question but you would agree the ability of a child to learn is not simply based on the classroom experience? all these other programs we debate, whether these kids are eating, have access to health care, all of these other things are relevant factors? >> indeed. >> thank you, senator rubio. senator murphy? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here, madam
11:50 am
secretary. with all due respect to my colleague from louisiana, education is not mayonnaise. frankly, the day that we start treating the education of our children like we do the we do t marketing of a condiment is the day we've given up on our kids, and that's at the foundation of my worry about some of the proposals you put forth in your budget. k-12 is a for-profit operator. it was a for-profit operator, one of the biggest in the country. your family was invested in it, a "new york times" article on this organization said that a portrait emerges of this company as trying to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher work load, and lowering standards. as a researcher at the university of colorado said, the people running these for-profit companies are fundamentally trying to do to public education what the banks did with home
11:51 am
mortgages. you and i have a fundamental disagreement. i just don't think there's any room in our public education for individuals making millions of dollars, making their fortune off of taxpayer dollars, but to the extent you want to move more public dollars into the private sector, some of it will end up in the hands of these for-profit charter school operators, so my question is, does your proposal require any of these companies to disclose their profits? will it cap the salaries of these ceos? what protections are -- will be in your specific protections will be in your proposal in your program to make sure that taxpayer dollars don't just end up enriching the pockets of the folks that own these companies? >> senator, thanks for that question. i think your question more broadly is better framed around what are students achieving, and i think the question is not what the tax status is --
11:52 am
>> that wasn't my -- >> i don't think the question is the tax status -- >> no, that was my question. >> the question is not, in my view, it's not the tax status of the school, it's what are students achieving. >> are you going to have any view of my question as you want, but my question is what protections will be on taxpayer dollars to make sure the heads of these companies don't end up being millionaires or billionaires off of the operation of these schools? >> if parents are making choices regardless of the tax status of the school to which they are sending them, whether it's a for-profit managed institution or not, i think those are the better measures to be oriented around. >> here's -- i understand that your question is there will be no protections for taxpayer dollars. i understand that you have a belief in the market, that that will end up solving the problems that may encounter, but here's
11:53 am
my worry. you spent some time today talking about students in connecticut, and i fundamentally don't believe that this administration cares about the outcomes of students at east hartford high school, because if you did, you wouldn't be proposing these massive cuts, talking about massive cuts for after school programs that help plac places like east hartford, cuts in career education, teacher training. all you're giving is the opportunity to choose a different school, but the fact of the matter is, that's not a panacea, right? in michigan alone, right, 70% of the charters in detroit ranked in the bottom 25% of the state's schools. and you can't just chock that up to the difficulty of educating kids in detroit, because the majority of african-american kids that were attending charter districts statewide performed worse than many of the students in those city schools. so, ultimately to me this can't
11:54 am
be about the kids in east hartford, because if it was, you wouldn't be taking all this funding away from them, and you wouldn't just be throwing them out into a market-driven system that seems mostly about enriching the salaries of the ceos who run these companies. this seems about a massive transfer of money from the public sector to the private sector with no protections around it. so i would hope that in devising this proposal, you will go back and think about making sure that kids get protected, right, whether they are in a public school or private school, and that our taxpayer dollars don't end up simply being transferred to pad the pockets of the folks that are operating these schools. i understand that you talked a lot about students in east hartford, connecticut, but i don't see anything here that will help these kids. all of their programs get cut that matter, right, massive cuts in support for public education, and then an invitation to go into the private sector, and in
11:55 am
the private sector they'll find good schools and they'll find bad schools, but those private sector schools or charter schools will be enduring the same set of cuts that come to the public schools, and in the end it may simply be a way to pad the pockets of the folks that operate the schools. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator maran? >> chairman, thank you very much. madam secretary, thank you for joining us. let me ask, when i was last in the room, senator blunt, chairman blunt, was asking about pell grants. let me make certain i have an answer to a question i've been asked. we authorize pell grants in the fy-17 budget for year-round, so-called year-round pell. how are the colleges and universities cannot distribute that aid until the department of education issues guidance. summer courses have already started on many of our college campuses. how soon will the guidance be issued and will it be in time to be utilized by students for this summer's classes? >> thanks, senator. yes, indeed, we're on track to have them ready for launching the program july 1st, so for the
11:56 am
summer. >> just a reminder that some classes have already started, but that's good to know they can include this summer in that plan. >> yes. >> all right. idea funding in a conversation you and i had, you committed yourself working with me to make sure i.d.e.a. is fully funded, and it appears that the president's budget, the administration budget is level funding. that's not always bad in today's environment, but i would again ask you if there was not a way you could prioritize any of the funding that's included in the budget toward i.d.e.a. as compared to something else or the decisions that you made were based that other things are a higher priority. >> yes, well, actually, the level funding would actually represent almost -- if you're looking at the cuts to other areas, we have a real commitment to funding i.d.e.a., and as you probably recall when i.d.e.a. was originally passed, the target was to support it at the
11:57 am
40% level. the current funding has run somewhere around 15%, and certainly if congress wanted to approach a higher level of funding for i.d.e.a., the students that we serve are certainly deserving of that. >> i think your point being that in today's -- with cuts in other programs, level funding, i.d.e.a. was a priority for you? >> certainly is a priority, yes. >> let me ask you about title i. there's a billion dollar increase in the budget request for title i, but it's over and above other funding at title i, and that additional $1 billion is to support local education agencies who adopt an open enrollment system. again, in a conversation that you and i had, you committed to me that you would not support, the department would not support, mandating options for
11:58 am
states uninterested, states and local boards of education, uninterested in having that option. >> correct. >> that's still true? >> that is still true. >> and i can -- in fact, it would be perhaps better if you would reassure folks in kansas that there is not money, pardon me, that's coming from current funding for title i that is being used elsewhere. >> that is correct. that is correct. the proposal is to level fund title i funding and then have an additional billion dollars that would be available to states that want, states or local districts, that wanted to opt into a public school choice program in their geography. >> but no state that doesn't make that option would have title i funds reduced. >> correct. >> let me mention finally impact aid, and just reiterate to you its importance and to remind you and the administration of its value, particularly in the
11:59 am
president's stated desire of supporting our military men and women and their families. we need to make certain that impact aid is appropriately supported, and while i make that statement, i would welcome any response that you might have. >> correct, and the budget proposal does continue to fund impact aid programs with the exception of the recommendation for payments for federal property where there are no federally connected children involved. and kind of a reminder that i think it's been 40 years since the legislation was initially passed, and hopefully those areas would have been able to figure out that tax-based issue over the period of 40 years, but there are no children involved with that particular piece of the federal impact aid budget. >> thank you, madam secretary. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator reid?
12:00 pm
>> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you, madam secretary. following along a similar line of questioning that senator murphy engaged in, is it the proposal that these for-profit elementary schools either -- or non-for-profit, must take all children that apply? is that a requirement? >> the -- i'm sorry, sir, the for-profit elementary schools? >> you have a parent that wants to go to a particular school, a for-profit school, not-for-profit school, public school, would that school be required to take the student? >> receiving federal funds? >> you're proposing a voucher system. >> i'm just trying to understand the hypothetical question. if there are schools that are receiving federal funds, they need to follow federal law. >> so a private for-profit school would have to take a
12:01 pm
disabled student. they couldn't reject anyone who showed up with a voucher. >> any school that is receiving federal funds has to follow federal law, period. >> but what does that mean? specific question, would they have to -- >> just what i said, they'd have to follow the federal laws. >> they'd have to accept a disabled child, they would have to have an individual education plan, which they would follow, it would be exactly like a public school. is that your position? >> if the school is accepting federal funds -- >> let me ask another question. >> let me also refer to the fact that states have implemented programs that -- for disabled students that parents willfully elect into and opt into. parents are making those decisions. there is no requirement. >> that's what i'm saying, the parent decides they want to go to this school and they come up. the school would have to accept that student. if the student had severe
12:02 pm
disabilities, they would have to accommodate their program to deal with that student's special disability. is that your position? >> if a school is accepting federal funds, they are going to follow federal law. >> so the voucher that is used to pay -- >> i will repeat again, if they are accepting federal funds, they'll follow federal laws. >> you would consider that voucher federal funds requiring them to follow federal law? >> well, first of all, there is no voucher program currently, so this is all a hypothetical question. >> it's not hypothetical. >> it is. >> you're going to publish rules, madam secretary, that's going to say you have to follow federal laws if you accept this voucher, which is federal funds. >> i've said before that if a school is accepting federal funds, they have to follow federal laws. >> so let me ask you a question. a for-profit school accepts a voucher, because that's what you're talking about, giving the
12:03 pm
parent the chance to move out of a public system into a private system. that would be considered by you the acceptance of federal funds, requiring the school to follow all the requirements that a public school would follow? >> any school that accepts federal funds will follow federal laws, period. without discrimination. >> so your answer is yes. so the voucher system will trigger for-profit, private schools, or not for profit private schools to accept all students, as public schools do, to follow all the rules, particularly with regard to disabled children. that's the only conclusion i can draw from your answers, which are rather cryptic. let me turn now to the higher education issues. the pell grant you seem to be suggesting as the appropriate mechanism and the only appropriate mechanism, because
12:04 pm
most of the other federal programs are zeroing out. the supplemental educational opportunity grants, cutting federal student aid in half, and yet you take $3.8 billion from the surplus of the pell grants rather than providing for additional larger pell grants, et cetera. how does that make college more affordable? >> well, sir, the proposal is to take $3.8 billion from the surplus, leaving $4.9 billion in the surplus, and if there is a desire to increase the pell grant, you know, the pell grant amounts for students, i think that is something that you have to consider. >> well, we already have $3.8 billion in the pell grants system. >> the pell program continues to be fully funded and have supplemental resources there, so it will continue to be very healthy into the foreseeable future, and if you want to adjust the pell rates, you
12:05 pm
certainly have the opportunity to do that. >> and you would support that with a budget authority? >> i'm not suggesting it, i'm saying that if that -- if it's your desire to increase it, you certainly have the opportunity to do that. >> we also have the opportunity to reject your suggestions and increase significantly the pell grants. >> i acknowledge that. >> thank you very much, madam secretary. >> well, thank you, senator. we're going to take time for a second round of questions if anybody wants to participate in that. i think senator murray and i both do. on the pell grant issue, when you go to year-round pell, that increases the pell potential by 50%. so the pell cap would be $8,880, and some observation was made here earlier that the pell grant only pays for 25% of education costs. that, obviously, depends on where you go, because a lot of
12:06 pm
places you can go that the pell grant pays for 100% of the education costs. may not pay for living cost, but i think we don't want to underestimate the impact of year-round pell to help people progress toward their goal of getting a degree, getting whatever they are in school to enhance their future abilities, but the annual cap now on pell if you choose to go year round would be $8,880, not $5,900. doesn't mean we shouldn't look at the $5,900. it just means that that is not a cap that somehow spread out over 12 months instead of nine. that cap increases. also i mention for senator kennedy's test on education, senator murray and i both were public school teachers, so we can pass the test. we're not sure that we'd want to wish our colleagues on every student in america for even a
12:07 pm
day, but some of them would be really good, and some of them not so -- >> that would be interesting. >> some of them not so good. now on this issue of federal law that's come up several times, i'm not going to ask you to repeat what you said on that, but i would say that your predecessor wanted to write his own federal law. my impression is, that's not what you want to do, and the department in the past sent guidance letters. didn't even want to go through the regulatory process that had input, sent guidance letters of what the secretary of education thought the federal law should say, even though that clearly was not what the federal law did say. i don't believe it's your job as secretary of education to decide what the federal law says. if it's -- >> i agree. >> if it's the department of education, not the place to settle what federal law says. that's the job of either the
12:08 pm
courts or the congress, not the department of education, and i think that's what i hear you repeatedly saying, and i agree with that. something you said i don't agree with on impact aid that no federally connected children involved. but if you have a -- if you have a school district that has national forest, that has military facilities that your school buses have to run through, that you have lost that tax base. the argument for impact aid has always been that the federal government needs to in some way restore the lack of potential for a school district to deal with that issue that the federal government has created. you know, when the school bus has to drive another 60 miles because that's what it takes to get through the national forest, even if there aren't any students there, that 60 miles of
12:09 pm
no taxpayer is created by the federal government, and while the impact aid reduction is not a big reduction, it is a reduction, and the federal property program eliminating that payment of $69 million does impact these districts. and no matter how long the national forest has been there as an example, it doesn't minimize the challenge that the school district has dealing with this large amount of federal property that can never be part of the property tax. a lot of property tax is paid on property that doesn't involve students. and so this issue that i think a lot of people on this committee will be interested in. let me on one more quick question, because we do want to stay with our time on this, but on further options for children, the focus idea is that billion-dollar idea would solely
12:10 pm
be focused on public education. is that right? >> that's correct. >> and you'd have the opportunity to look at that as a district that had multiple schools or as a state. either one, is that right? >> intradistrict, state. >> two districts together could come together and try to figure out how to make that work, and that is totally 100% a public school choice program. >> correct. >> all right, thank you. senator murray? >> thank you. secretary devos, last month your committee released school crime and safety report for last year. do you know what showed an increase? >> i would assume sexual assault. >> it was forcible sex crimes, and depending on the survey that you look at, we know that at least 1 in 5 women are being sexually assaulted on college campus, and that's one of the lowest estimates out there. that to me is really appalling
12:11 pm
and unacceptable, and your budget cuts the budget for the office of civil rights, which addresses those title ix enforcement on college campuses, among other important civil rights work loads. my concern is that your budget proposal will leave ocr with about 60 fewer staff and the same high work load. and that is really concerning to me. that will really deny victims of campus sexual assault violence timely resolution of their complaints and delay improvements on campuses that keep students safe. don't you agree with that? >> let me just say that ocr is level funded. it is not the -- the budget is not reduced. >> we're going back to bad numbers. we have to go by what we have approved, what current law is. >> the intention is to fully fund ocr based on whatever numbers -- again, we're basing all of the budget numbers on the numbers prior to your action. >> okay, current law, by current law it will reduce it by 60, and that's a fact.
12:12 pm
your proposal. let me just -- i have just a few minutes left, and i did want to ask you a couple pertinent requests that i have. first of all, it's been widely reported that president trump's justice department is telling agencies they have the legal authority to ignore written questions and requests for information from democrats, and i'm not going to ask for your opinion on their legal analysis regarding what you're required to do, but given that agencies certainly have the option to respond to inquiries and be transparent above and beyond what president trump's white house is saying, i wanted to ask you, do you plan to respond to inquiries from democrats, or just ignore them and only respond to republicans? >> senator, we have been responding to inquiries. in fact, i know that you've submitted 23 letters to me since i've been in office, and we've been able to respond to over half of them. i think eight of them came just in the last month alone, so we are definitely responding to letters as we can. >> well, we have -- >> let me just say, i would just
12:13 pm
encourage if you have questions, i invited this the day i was confirmed. i really do want to work with you, and i would love to have -- >> we have not gotten those. i don't know if your staff is not handing those to you -- >> that's, i guess, going to snail mail. i just encourage you. >> will you commit to responding to the letters we have sent to you? >> we have been responding, and we will commit to continuing to respond. again, i just encourage that we sometimes talk. i think that might be a really good -- >> sometimes it's really helpful to us to have answers in writing so we have that as a record. and i would really appreciate your getting those back to me. we have not seen them. and secondly, senator alexander asked about the implementation. we worked very hard in a bipartisan way to do that. i have a number of fairly technical questions. i don't want to take up this committee's time, but my staff has been unable to get from you and your staff a full briefing on the implementation and how
12:14 pm
you're going to do that. can i get a commitment from you that within the next two weeks from your staff to my staff? >> i believe that we've had ongoing conversations with your staff, but, yes, for whatever questions you don't yet have answered, we will certainly endeavor to do so. >> okay, i would appreciate that. extremely important we implement this in a way we all understand. thank you. >> senator cochran? >> mr. chairman, i think we've had a good hearing, and i've enjoyed the questions and answers that we've had before the committee. because of constraints in other areas, i'm going to ask that my remaining questions be made a part of the record. >> will have an opportunity for that and that's how that will be handled. senator murray, then senator langford, and that will conclude this hearing after i make a final statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks for sticking around.
12:15 pm
i wanted to ask you about the state plans being submitted. when you and i talked prior to your nomination, we had, i thought, a good conversation about how i think there is a marriage between innovation and accountability that people are more willing to support innovation. more willing to support choice, frankly, if they believe there's real accountability. and we came together in a bipartisan way to pass the accountability section of the obama administration sent out regulations trying to be helpful to school districts on how they would craft state plans that included accountability, and unfortunately republicans on this committee supported a congressional review act process that stripped away those regulations, leaving you with the sole discretion to enforce the statute. and so one of the things that's important in those accountability regulations is the idea that the schools
12:16 pm
identify -- schools that need support that are constantly underperforming, and unfortunately, some of the plans that have been submitted either completely leave their policy around providing supports for underperforming schools undefined, or they propose policies that are really unclear or sometimes they are totally inconsistent with the law, you know, to say you're just going to have a policy of painting the walls of a school that's underperforming. that actually is not consistent with the law. so, can you give us some idea or some commitment that you are not going to approve a state plan unless it clearly identifies how it's going to support schools that are constantly underperforming or subgroups that are constantly underperforming? i want to make sure you're not going to be a rubber stamp for these plans and you're going to
12:17 pm
hold states to the requirements, especially when it comes to these really vulnerable kids. >> senator, thank you. i am, obviously, very interested in ensuring that the plans that states put forward comport to the law that congress has passed, and that is really going to be the measure by which the plans will be approved or not approved. if they follow and address all the parts of the law as congress has intended, the plans will have to be approved. whether i agree with everything in the plans or not is another question, and whether you agree with everything in the plan, whether it's, you know, robust enough or not, that, obviously, could be one -- a matter for interpretation, as well, but the intention is to approve plans that comport with the law and, you know, just parenthetically, i am very hopeful that states are going to be really creative as it comes to addressing some of these issues and taking a look in a new way, because, obviously, some of the things that we've been doing in the
12:18 pm
past hasn't been working as well. >> so let me -- i understand you can't opine on specific state plans, but if there are turn around proposals that are -- that you deem insufficient if there are supports that are not evidence based, do you reserve the ability to either deny those state plans or send them back? i want to make sure when you say creativity, that you're going to look at state plans and make sure the supports they are proposing are real supports, and if you don't believe that they are real supports, that you will not approve that plan or ask them to submit something new. >> well, they are all required to comport with the law, so that will be the measure by which the plans will be approved. i'm not going to invent new
12:19 pm
regulation or new law in order to accept or reject a state plan. >> but you will conduct an evaluation -- i'm trying to understand. are you saying that you are not going to conduct an evaluation as to whether they are providing meaningful supports? what is going to be the standard by which you are going to judge whether they are providing meaningful supports. but the reason why we needed regulations is because the law is silent on that question. it just says they have to provide supports. it's up to you to decide whether those are meaningful supports. >> i think it's up to the states and the local communities to determine what supports they are going to implement, and it's going to vary from state to state, that's for sure, but the goal of the legislation was to return the power back to the
12:20 pm
states. >> what if they submit a plan that says they are going to paint the walls of the school? >> that's a hypothetical. >> is there any support you would deem to be insufficient under the statute? can you imagine any support that you would reject? >> i am going to evaluate plans -- >> answer to that question is yes. >> the important thing is are they following the law or not? i may not agree with everything they suggested, but -- >> is there any support they could propose that you would deem insufficient under the law? >> i cannot say that. if it responds to the law as requested and required by the essa act, then they will have fulfilled the -- >> thank you. senator langford? >> thank you. appreciate the long day and the
12:21 pm
long conversation on these issues. it is interesting to me that in the beginning of the obama administration, they came to this committee and requested funds for race to the top funds for additional dollars for someone in d.c. to be able to say there are additional dollars if you do our curriculum we pick, if you'll do it our way, if you go through our plans, if you have a system we approve, we'll give you additional dollars. if i'm tracking this correctly, you're coming to this committee saying we would like additional dollars to get to schools if they pick a plan and they run a plan, and if they provide choice to their students in a public school setting. am i tracking that correctly? >> you are tracking that correctly. >> i grew up in an innovative district that did school choice from school-to-school. i did not go to the high school closest to me. i literally drove all the way across town. they had a band program and i
12:22 pm
liked at all those different things, as a middle school student talked to my mom and ended up in a school way across town, because my district allowed that. i had a great educational experience, but my parents in a public school setting had a choice within the district of four high schools that they could -- that i could choose from, and i was allowed to do that. i was the beneficiary of that. by the way, i met my wife at that school, as well, so i'm forever grateful for a district that just allowed parents to be able to choose what school they went to within a public school setting. that doesn't seem like a revolution to me. that's something i did in high school a very long time ago that i understand some districts don't want to do and some states don't want to do, but that's their choice. what you're saying is, if you choose to do that, we'll help you in that transition and allow parents to have that choice. am i correct on that? >> that's correct. >> senator merkley brought up
12:23 pm
the issue of religious liberty on campus and asked you some questions about protecting religious liberty on campus, as well, which i think is a pertinent question to be able to deal with. this is an interesting conversation that really seems shocking to me that's even a conversation in america at all that we would have to discuss should religious liberty of students be protected. the department of education decided for the first time ever to be able to post all of the schools, the higher ed schools, that asked for a title ix religious exemption, to put them in a special place on their website and be able to basically put them out. it appeared to be for shame purposes to say these are all the schools that asked for religious exemptions. and it was a new method, i think, to be able to basically try to humiliate schools to not ask for a religious exemption. is that something you're going to continue? will there be a public display of every school?
12:24 pm
because it never has been in the past since it was actually put in place in 1971. there's never been a public release of that, unless someone did a foyer request and, obviously, you can get that through a foyer request. will there continue to be in a special setting? >> doesn't sound like it's a necessary thing, and it's something i will certainly look into. >> well, i think it's something that should be looked into. if any institution asks for a religious exemption, that's something the law allows them to do and shouldn't be a way to publicly humiliate folks because they are following the law and following through on that. same thing, we have some states right now that are experimenting on college campuses to say if they are an extracurricular group that's honored on campus, just like most other campuses, fraternity, whatever it may be, that have campus access, if the leadership of the organization, not the membership, if the leadership of the organization can't be individuals that
12:25 pm
actually violate the religious principles of a religious faith-based group, if the leadership of that group is not open to people that are nonpractitioners of that fiaith then they can't come on campus and can't have access. it's literally defining for that group of what the religious of that group, of a religious-based group has to be. i have an issue with that. it's one thing to say your membership should be open to everyone. it's another thing to say the leadership of your group. do you have an initial impression on that? >> i think this is an issue that bears a lot more discussion and one that has, i think, come to the fore in recent years in a way we have not seen before. religious liberty is a very key and important issue to be discussed in the context of all educational settings. >> right. this was an issue that president clinton put out a great piece decades ago honoring the religious protections of every individual on every campus. this appeared to have been a subtle issue and suddenly it's
12:26 pm
rising up again, whether on a secondary campus or institution of higher education. what is and not permissible for a faith-based student. i just personally believe that every individual should be able to live whatever faith they choose to live or no faith at all and that be acceptable on a campus setting and not try to require them to be able to practice one thing or say you can in writing have one thing but not in practice have another. that's not consistent with our values, so i appreciate your testimony today. >> thank you, senator langford, and thank you secretary devos for being here today. the record will stay open for one week for additional questions. the subcommittee will stand in recess until 10:00 a.m. thursday, the 15th. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
12:27 pm