Today, Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote.
The impacts of homelessness and foster care on children and youth were raised by two U.S. Senators in DeVos’ confirmation process. Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) asked several questions about the Secretary’s plans to support these students. Secretary DeVos recognized the unique needs of students experiencing homelessness from preschool through high school:
“Homeless students are a particularly vulnerable population. If confirmed, I look forward to engaging in collaborative relationships with stakeholders to ensure the Department of Education is meeting the needs of these students.”
Secretary DeVos also committed to supporting college students experiencing homelessness and in foster care, stating:
“The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will provide an excellent opportunity to consider ways to more effectively support homeless students, address their unique challenges in accessing postsecondary education, and help states and institutions of higher education develop or improve policies that are effective at helping these vulnerable students.”
The full text of Senator Murray’s questions, and Betsy DeVos’s responses to them, may be read here.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK), also emphasized her expectation that Secretary DeVos will address the needs of students experiencing homelessness, noting that, “Betsy DeVos must show all of us that she truly understands the children of all America — rural and urban — who are not able to access an alternative choice in education…. That she will not ignore the homeless students who worry about finding a place to sleep and for whom their public school is really a refuge.”
SchoolHouse Connection hopes to continue our collaborative relationship with the U.S. Department of Education under Secretary DeVos, including informing the Department’s actions with the direct experiences and insights of schools, communities, and young people.