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Florida House leaders support Betsy DeVos in letter

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and state Reps. Jose Oliva and Jose Felix Diaz have signed on to a letter supporting Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump‘s pick for Education Secretary.

They’re among nearly 150 “state-level elected leaders in all 50 states” who say they support DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor who carries financial and political clout.

Oliva is expected to become speaker in 2018-20 following Corcoran; Diaz chairs the House’s Commerce Committee. Both are Miami-Dade Republicans.

The letter, dated Tuesday, is being sent to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. It will hold a confirmation hearing on her at 5 p.m.

“(W)e must have a Secretary of Education committed to the needs of all of our nation’s children,” the letter says. “Betsy DeVos has made it her life’s mission to find, support and push for education solutions in her home state of Michigan and across the country. She is an advocate and ally for all children, and we write to you today to express our support for her nomination to this important position as her confirmation hearing approaches.”

DeVos, a charter school advocate, is widely expected to push for expanding school choice programs if confirmed as education secretary, prompting pushback from teachers unions.

Democrats and activists also are raising concerns about how her conservative Christian beliefs and advocacy for family values might impact minority and LGBT students.

“Her support for an all-of-the-above approach to K-12 education – from charter schools, to public, private and online education – defines the school choice movement that has helped countless children across many of our states,” the letter says.

“By advancing these innovative solutions from the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos will put children first and empower not only states to lead the way in making critical education decisions, but also empower parents to choose what type of education is best for their children.”

The letter concludes: “We encourage the (committee) to ensure a swift confirmation process so that we together can get to work making classrooms a place for all children to thrive.”

Background for this post provided by The Associated Press, reprinted with permission.


Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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