At 5:00 this afternoon—almost guaranteeing it will interrupt my usual dinner time—the confirmation hearing for education secretary‐nominee Betsy DeVos will take place. With my Hungry Man “Gamer Grub” on a tray and my laptop right next to it, I’ll be live‐tweeting the proceedings. So, too, will Jason Bedrick, though I have no idea what he’ll be eating if he’s dining at all. One can easily lose one’s appetite while witnessing political theater.
Here are the things I’m hoping to hear discussed:
- Broadly speaking, what does DeVos think is the proper federal role in education? I know my—and the Constitution’s—answer.
- What role, if any, should the federal government have in advancing school choice? For my answer, see the point above. And this. And this.
- Does school choice work? Dems are likely to point to Michigan—DeVos’s home state—to answer “no.” In contrast, Jason and the Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden show that a fair reading of the Michigan research indicates the answer is “yes.”
- President‐elect Trump talked about getting rid of the Common Core. How would DeVos do that? Here’s what I think.
- How should the Every Student Succeeds Act—the more hands‐off successor to No Child Left Behind—be implemented? I say follow the spirit and letter of the law.
- How do we get control of skyrocketing college prices, not to mention massive noncompletion? It is unclear what DeVos will say, but the evidence is powerful that Washington must do the opposite of what it has been doing.
- What will be DeVos’s approach to for‐profit colleges? I hope she’ll put them in the full higher education context.
- What is the federal role in enforcing civil rights? My answer here.
- Finally, won’t school choice—educational freedom—destroy the “cornerstone” of democracy, or America, or something else equally foundational? The answer—despite decades of rhetoric—is crystal clear: Quite the opposite.
There could be a lot of substance to chew on if the hearings stick to issues and not political theatrics. But if we mainly get the latter, at least I’ll have my frozen Salisbury steak, or some other grub, on which to chew.