tv Betsy De Vos Delivers Remarks at CPAC CSPAN February 26, 2017 6:35pm-6:50pm EST
thehis is going to be busiest congress we have had in decades. >> following the speech, the yourratic response and reaction to the president's speech along with members of congress. live tuesday at 9 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org. and listen live on the c-span radio app. >> education secretary betsy devos spoke at the annual conservative political action conference on thursday and commented on a trumped administration rescinding guidelines to public schools that allow transgender students the use of bathrooms that match their gender identity. this is 15 minutes.
i love the energy and enthusiasm cpac brings. you may have heard many of the wonderful things mainstream media has called me. called ayself on being mother, grandmother, life partner of 38 years tomorrow, and perhaps the first person to tell bernie sanders to his face that there is no such thing as a free lunch. the media has had its fun with me, and that's ok. my job isn't to win a popularity contest with the media or education establishment in washington. my job as secretary of education is to make education work for students, but today, we know the system is failing to many kids. how do we know that? our nations test scores have flatlined. 1.3 million children drop out of school per year. because the previous administration spent $7 billion
on school improvement grants, thinking they could demonstrate of that money alone could solve the problem, yet their own report, issued as they walked out the door, showed it had zero impact on student outcomes and performance. they tested their model, and it failed miserably. this is not an indictment of teachers. we all know great public school teachers. my mom was one. good teachers make a real difference. good teachers deserve to be honored and compensated accordingly. [applause] but the education establishment has been blocking the doorway to reform, fixes, and improvements for a generation. this is not a left or a right issue. this is an american issue. we need education to work for
every child. let me ask you. do you believe parents should be able to choose the best school for their child regardless of their zip code or family income? me too, and so does president trump. we have a unique window of opportunity to make school choice a reality for millions of families. both the president and i believe that providing an equal opportunity for a quality education is an imperative that all students deserve. now let me ask you -- how many of you are college students? the fight against the education establishment extends to you too. the faculty from adjunct professors to dean's tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. they say that if you voted for donald trump, you are a threat to the university too.
but the real threat is silencing the first amendment rights of people with whom you disagree. [applause] as secretary, i don't think the department of education in washington, d.c. should have more power over your decisions than you do. i took this job because i want to return power in education back to where it belongs, with parents, communities, and states. we can do this, but only with your help. defenders of the status quo will stop at nothing to protect their special interests and special gigs, so we need you to engage, to be loud, and to never stop fighting for what we believe. we need you to call, write, email, tweet, and snap every politician who thinks the status quo is ok and they know better than you when it comes to your education. together, we can make american
education grade again. -- great again. the next generation deserves no less. thank you, and i look forward to fighting alongside of you. [cheering] [applause] >> madam secretary, it is so great to be with you. sec. devos: it's great to be with you. >> could do you guys be more excited for president trump's pick for education secretary of education? you have been a phenomenal pick. you have spent 30 years working on these issues that are so important, protecting children of all races, all identities. it's crucial, and you are doing that.
i couldn't be more excited for what you have planned for the department. sec. devos: thank you. it is an honor. >> on that note, a lot of news has been made in the last 24 hours. president trump rescinded the guidelines on transgender -- [applause] let's be very clear why he did that. president obama acted flawlessly -- lawlessly. he promised us he would use his pen and phone to circumvent congress. he did so repeatedly, including with these guidelines that reinterpreted federal statute. you put out a letter afterwards basically saying you want to protect all children, and i wanted to give you an opportunity to clarify what you meant. sec. devos: sure. i think the statement spoke for itself to a large extent, but let me just say that this issue was a very huge example of the obama administration's overreach and to suggest a one-size-fits-all, federal government approach to issues
that are best dealt with at a personal level and local level. i have made clear from the moment i have been in this job that it is our job to protect students and to do that to the fullest extent that we can, and also to provide students, parents, and teachers with more flexibility around how education is delivered and how education is experienced, and to protect and preserve personal freedoms. >> absolutely. talking about the states and empowering parents, we as conservatives fully believe that the states are the appropriate, robust actors in the field of education. we want parents to be empowered, and part of that is empowering the states. what is the role of the federal department of education vis-a-vis the states? sec. devos: the department of education has played a very integral role, too much of a role, with the implementation of
the new essa rules. we will see a lot of that power returned to the states and a lot of the flexibility given to the states to do with they can do best on behalf of students. i think that is the right direction. the role of the federal government should be as light of a touch as possible, and the areas in which of the department of education have an important role are around the needs of special needs students and the civil rights issues we've referenced earlier. >> undoubtedly. one of the things i loved in communicating with you and your staff, i get a sense you want to unify the country and make real change, and i think there is even evidence of that. we are at this time with the
country so divided, and there is so much anger and his respect for one another that we need people to come together on behalf of children in particular, and the evidence i saw of that was, on day two, you picked up your phone and made a call to the atf, randy weingartner, and you did this despite the fact that the other teachers union put out a statement saying, we refuse to have a relationship with secretary devos. you have one teachers union increasing division and another one, because you reached out a hand, reaching a hand back to you. i believe you are going on a tour of local schools with
randy. sec. devos: i had a great conversation with randy, and i think it's imperative we work together to find common ground. if students represent 100% of our future. we need to be focused around what is right for them. my conversation with randy was great, and we agreed to visit schools together. >> that is fantastic. another place where this opposition and divisiveness was showcased was during your confirmation hearings. i was appalled at the way senator warren conducted herself and her line of questioning, but by contrast, you had senator scott who told a story of how you grew up and how your family mortgaged everything they had to start a business, and you painted a building and worked on an assembly line. i wonder if you would share a little bit of that. you are the american dream, and a lot of students are trying to achieve what your family achieved. sec. devos: my dad was a great entrepreneur and inventor. i recall well as a young child, seven or eight years old, painting the first building with him as he put up a cement-block building, which came as a result of mortgaging everything. i worked through different summer jobs at the plant, third shift. he invented the lighted sun visor for automobiles. anybody who enjoys those, you
can thank my dad for that invention. i think it was at the urging of my mom, she would like to be able to see the put lipstick on when they were going somewhere at night. yes, it was an important experience for me to grow up in a home where everybody pitched in, and where my parents really modeled what it was to pursue the american dream in a meaningful way. >> absolutely. that is a great story. i heard you ask of the audience, who in here are college students, and i heard a lot of cheers. something that is import to students, conservative students in particular -- i am a recent
law school graduate -- academic freedom. a lot of times on college campuses, you feel that you speak at your own risk if you speak conservative thought. you are often believed by your peers and sometimes your professors and educators. what advice would you have to students out there who desperately want to share conservatism but feel bullied in doing so? sec. devos: i think my first advice would be don't shut up. keep talking. keep making your arguments. [applause] you can do so respectfully and with civility, but i think you need to do so with confidence. we need to have opposing viewpoints and differing ideas in an academic environment and any environment where ideas are necessary to be exchanged. i urge and encourage all college students here were any student to continue to bring your ideas and your viewpoints. that is the best way to learn, and it's the best way for all of
us to learn how to get together -- get along together. >> one of the things i loved about you when you are president trump's pic was the work you've done on behalf of children in poverty. you helped 400,000 families in poverty and assisted them and gave them school choice or that -- choice. that is fantastic. that is an indispensable part of president trump's agenda, helping students in inner cities. what is your plan? sec. devos: we know that equalizer, and it's the real -- we know that education is the great equalizer, and it's the real moment of opportunity for every student. the notion that i can choose where my children go to school because i can afford to pay for it but my fellow americans can't because they don't have the same economic means, it's just not right. it is unjust. i share the president's view that we must and can do better to provide each american with an equal opportunity for a great education, and we will be working together to advance that. >> this nation is so blessed to have you as secretary of education, and president trump
could not have made a better choice. i'm so thrilled for your vision, so excited. [applause] ♪ >> also on thursday chief of staff reince pre-this and chief strategist and counselors steve bannon appeared together for a joint interview at the annual conservative political action conference. this is 30 minutes. >> alright guys, let's take a seat. cpac is known as having important moments. i think it is safe to