Betsy DeVos has been nominated for the next U.S. Secretary of Education, and I believe she is the best person for the position. I’ve known Betsy for many years, and I’ve seen firsthand her passion for education and for our children. Here is the letter I’ve just sent Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in support of her confirmation.
Dear Chairman Alexander:
In advance of Mrs. DeVos’s January 17th confirmation hearing in your committee, I share my strong support for her confirmation as our next U.S. Secretary of Education.
Young people in America today are entering a workforce that is the most competitive we have seen in our lifetime. Our economy is truly global, and how well our students are learning is being measured on an international scale.
We also know that, in too many communities across our country, students are receiving an education that is leaving them unprepared for next steps after high school—a reality that has a deep impact on the success and future of our citizens.
I devoted much of my post-U.S. Senate career to improving public education in Tennessee in an effort to jumpstart long-term educational change in our state and ensure that every child graduates high school prepared for college or a career. As a surgeon, I also know that education impacts all aspects of our life, including health. Studies I led for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that education is one of the best predictors of health outcomes from life expectancy to the infant mortality rate.
It is for these reasons that I am both excited and hopeful about the nomination of Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. secretary of education. I have known Mrs. DeVos for many years, and I know firsthand that her passion for education comes from a deep desire to do what’s best for our nation’s children.
In Tennessee, we have shown what is possible in improving public education. Tennessee has gone from 46th in the nation to 25th in 4th grade math in just four years. We now rank 19th in the country in 4th grade science. More Tennessee students are enrolling in and completing education beyond high school—education that will help them secure a bright future for themselves and their children.
This progress has been made due to the reforms Tennessee has committed to—stronger teacher evaluations, higher expectations for students, teacher tenure reform, and expanding high-quality school choices for parents, among others—and those reforms must continue in order to ensure success for all students. As the center of gravity in education moves away from the federal government and into locals’ hands, we need a secretary of education who can both safeguard the flexibility states need to advance these reforms and inspire innovation that will challenge the status quo. I believe Betsy DeVos is that leader.
She has more than 28 years of experience advocating for policies that are good for students, policies like more choices for parents, ensuring high-quality teachers in the classroom, and protecting the right for every child to receive an excellent publicly-funded education. With a devotion to transforming our K-12 education system that has received wide-ranging bipartisan support at the local and national levels, Mrs. DeVos fits the bill for the trailblazer needed at the helm of federal education policy.
Most importantly, she puts children at the forefront of her advocacy efforts. As a mother and grandmother who, together with her husband, helped start a high-performing public charter school in Michigan, Mrs. DeVos is intimately familiar with education policy from all angles. In fact, West Michigan Aviation Academy is the top-rated public charter high school in the state of Michigan.
Betsy DeVos will bring a renewed sense of urgency and focus to improving schools in neighborhoods across America. As someone who has worked with Mrs. DeVos for years, I urge the U.S. Senate to confirm her nomination. She is the public servant our country needs leading the U.S. Department of Education.
William H. Frist, MD