Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. Secretary of Education. New Leaders appreciates that Secretary DeVos has expressed her personal commitment to supporting parents, children, and our nation’s public schools and teachers.
We hope that Secretary DeVos will prioritize school leadership as a central piece of her vision for strengthening the American education system. Research shows — and our experience confirms — that well-prepared, well-supported principals have a significant influence on teacher practice and student success.
New Leaders also looks forward to hearing from Secretary DeVos on how she plans to enforce a wide range of existing federal laws, regulations, and guidance.
In particular, states are currently developing their accountability plans in partnership with educators and other local stakeholders. The message we’ve heard is clear: they need consistency and stability from the federal government to effectively transition to new ESSA requirements, which were finalized last November after nearly a year of stakeholder engagement and careful bipartisan negotiation efforts.
In addition, we encourage Secretary DeVos to directly address questions raised during her nomination hearing regarding the Trump Administration’s vision for upholding protections for our most vulnerable children, including providing safe, inclusive, and, as appropriate, tailored learning environments for students with disabilities, LGBTQ youth, and undocumented students. Though we appreciate Secretary DeVos’ pledge to support the transition under ESSA to greater state and local decision-making, protecting students’ civil rights will remain a fundamental responsibility of the Department and its Secretary.
Finally, Secretary DeVos has communicated a commitment to evidence-based approaches to school improvement. To that end, we hope she will articulate in greater depth the lessons she has learned from her past work. We do not expect the new Secretary of Education to have all the answers. We do hope for candid, non-ideological conversations about what works for children.
Moving forward, we hope Secretary DeVos will take advantage of opportunities to listen and learn from educators across the country (including the Department’s School Ambassador Fellows) and we would welcome the opportunity to share with her the profound impact of transformational leadership on the lowest-performing, highest-need schools. Drawing on our robust evidence base and the experience of the more than 2,500 teacher leaders, principals, and other school leaders who make up the New Leaders community, New Leaders can share lessons from some of the country’s most innovative, effective schools getting results for children in low-income communities.
In the months and years ahead, New Leaders commits to engaging in productive dialogue with the new Administration and other key stakeholders to advance and protect the needs of the educators, students, and families we serve.