Oppose Confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education

Media 01.30,17

Recipient: U.S. Senate

View the PDF of this letter here.

Dear Senator,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 251 organizations listed below, we urge you to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education. All parents and students in this country – a majority of whom are of color or are low-income[i] – want the best education, support and dignity for their own children. We stand with them and cannot support a nominee who has demonstrated that she seeks to undermine bedrock American principles of equal opportunity, nondiscrimination and public education itself.

The Secretary of Education’s role as an enforcer of education and civil rights laws[ii] is central to advancing our shared vision of an inclusive and diverse system of high-quality public education that enables every student to live up to their potential. DeVos has demonstrated no previous commitment to ensuring equal educational opportunity in schools. Moreover, in her hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on January 17, 2017, she failed to demonstrate that she is capable of and committed to enforcing the law – as is required of the agency’s chief executive. 

Betsy DeVos’ deference to state flexibility, even with regard to compliance with federal civil rights laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); her claim that demonstrating support for Title IX enforcement guidance would be “premature;” and her lack of support for accountability for all schools receiving federal funds only serve to reinforce our conclusion that her inadequate previous experience and missing record of support for students’ civil rights make her unfit to serve as Secretary of Education.

When compared with Secretaries of Education throughout the history of the department, DeVos’ lack of experience stands out. She has never been an educator or worked directly with children and families in public schools. She has never led a school, district or state agency tasked with educating students. She has never been a public school parent or a public school student. This lack of experience makes her uniquely unfamiliar with the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s students, families, educators and schools.

The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws protecting students from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and disability and those laws that provide for educational opportunity from early childhood through graduate school. The person responsible for leading that department must absolutely be committed to enforcing federal laws on behalf of every single student in this country – without regard to LGBTQI status, family income, race, ethnicity, home language, gender, religion, disability or immigration status. Our nation’s Constitution, economy, future and children deserve no less.




National (103)


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Advocacy Institute

African American Ministers In Action (AAMIA)

All Our Children National Network

American Association of People with Disabilities

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American Atheists

American Dance Therapy Association

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Federation of Teachers

American Friends Service Committee

Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)

Americans for Religious Liberty

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)

Black Women’s Blueprint

Center for American Progress

The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project

Center for Law and Education

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Champion Women

Children’s Defense Fund

Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues

Communications Workers of America

Council of Administrators of Special Education


Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring (DREAM)

Equal Justice Society

Equal Rights Advocates

Equality Federation

Family Equality Council

Feminist Majority Foundation

Four Freedoms Forum

Franciscan Action Network


Harriet Tubman Collective

Healthy Teen Network

Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD)

Hispanic Federation

Immigration Equality Action Fund

In Our Own Voices, Inc.

Jewish Women International (JWI)

Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Know Your IX

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

League of United Latin American Citizens

Learning Disabilities Association of America

Legal Aid at Work (formerly Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center)

MANA, A National Latina Organization


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

National Action Network

National Alliace of Black School Educators

National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National Association of Social Workers

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)

National Council of Gray Panthers Networks

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of La Raza

National Council on Educating Black Children

National Council on Independent Living

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Immigration Law Center

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Urban League

National Women’s Law Center

OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates

The Opportunity Institute

Parent Advocacy Consortium

Partners for Each and Every Child

People Demanding Action

People For the American Way


Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Progressive Congress Action Fund

Project KnuckleHead

Roosevelt Institute

Saving Our Sons & Sisters International

School Social Work Association of America

Secular Coalition for America

Service Employees International Union

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Southern Poverty Law Center

Stop Sexual Assault in Schools

Students Resisting Trump, a project of Students for Education Reform Action Network


Teaching for Change

The Trevor Project

United Spinal Association

Women Enabled International

Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN)

World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law



State and Local Groups (149)


ADAPT Montana

Advocates for Children of New York

ALSO Youth, Inc

American Federation of Teachers/North Carolina

American Samoa Alliance against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center

Brain-Body Health Technology Institute, LLC

Bright Futures LLC CO

California Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition

California Foundation for Independent Living Centers


Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS)

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Federation of Teachers

Chesapeake Down Syndrome Association

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Citizens Against Government Overreach

Citizens for Educational Awareness

Citizens for Public Schools

Coalition for Equal Access for Girls

Collaborative Parent Leadership Action Network

Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Community 4:12

Community Resources for Independent Living

Connecticut Alliance of School Social Workers

Creative Learning Enterprises, Inc.

Dayle McIntosh Center

Deb Davis Advocacy

Decoding DyslexiaMD

Directions for Youth & Families

Disability Action Center

Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts

Education Law Center-PA

Education Opportunity Network

Education Rights Network

Elmhurst Action for a Better Tomorrow

Faculty Senate, Wheelock College

Fannie Lou Hamer Center For Change

Florida Association of School Social Workers

Florida Council Against Sexual Violence

Fort Wayne Urban League

Girls Inc. of Long Island

Grow Your Own Teachers Illinois

Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline (Gwinnett SToPP)

Illinois Association of School Social Workers

Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco

Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault

Institute for Women’s Studies and Services, MSU Denver

Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Iowa School Social Workers’ Association (ISSWA)

Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

JF STEM Institute

Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center

Knoxville Area Urban League

Latino Engagement and Action Council

Lesbian Health Initiative (LHI)

LGBT Center of Raleigh

Los Angeles LGBT Center

Los Angeles Urban League

Loud Voices Together Educational Advocacy Group

Louisiana Association of Special Education Administrators

Louisville Urban League

Made in Durham

Manhattan, Community Board 2

Maryland Multicultural Coalition/State Chapter of NAME

Michigan Alliance for Special Education

Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence

Michigan NOW

Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network

Minneapolis Urban League

Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Minnesota School Social Workers Association

Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Mountain State Centers for Independent Living

National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter

NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault

NCJW Peninsula Section

Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

New York State School Social Work Association

Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc.

North Carolina Justice Center

Ohio School Social Work Association

Open Arms Rape Crisis Center & LGBT+ Services

OUT in the High Country

OutReach LGBT Community Center

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

Placer Independent Resource Services

Planned Parenthood Keystone

Public Advocates Inc.

Quality Education for Every Student

R.E.A.C.H. (Resources for Educational Advocacy and Classroom Help)

Resource Center

Restorative Schools Vision Project (RSVP)

Rich Educational Consulting, LLC

Rockland County Pride Center

Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center

Ruth Ellis Center

Sacramento LGBT Community Center

Sandy Mislow LLC

SC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

SHK Global Health

SKIL Resource Center

Southwest Pennsylvania National Organization for Women

Student Advocacy Inc.

Teachers Unite

The Chicago Urban League

The DC Center for the LGBT Community

The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach

The LOFT LGBT Community Services Center

The Pride Center at Equality Park

The Urban League of Greater Atlanta

Tri-County Independent Living

Urban League of Greater Madison

Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc.

Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Voices for Schools

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Women’s City Club of New York

Women’s Law Project


Youth Justice Coalition

YWCA Allentown

YWCA Aurora

YWCA Binghamton and Broome County, Inc.

YWCA Bradford

YWCA Greater Austin

YWCA Greater Lafayette

YWCA Greater Portland

YWCA Kankakee

YWCA La Crosse

YWCA Mount Desert Island

YWCA National Capital Area

YWCA Northcentral PA

YWCA of Asheville and WNC

YWCA of Kaua`i

YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County

YWCA of the Greater Capital Region

YWCA Pierce County

YWCA Princeton

YWCA San Antonio

YWCA South Hampton Roads

YWCA Spokane

YWCA Union County

YWCA Warren

YWCA Yakima