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Dear Z:

          Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me about President Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of the United States Department of Education.

Let me start by saying this: I believe steadfastly in our public schools.  I’m a product of Louisiana public schools.  I graduated from Zachary High School, and I’m proud of it.  My teachers there prepared me to compete in college and law school with just about anyone.  I’ve also been a volunteer substitute teacher in Louisiana public schools for the last thirteen years.  There’s not a single, solitary politician in the State of Louisiana who has been in our public schools more than I have in the past thirteen years.

I also want you to know that I do not believe that the United States Constitution grants the federal government control over our public schools.  In my opinion, our Constitution leaves public education and policy about it to state and local governments.  I think that is sound policy, and our founding fathers knew what they were doing.  The last thing, in my opinion, our educators need is another U.S. Department of Education trying to impose top-down, one-size-fits-all federal standards on local schools and telling our local officials and teachers how to run their classrooms.  Betsy DeVos agrees with me.

The United States Senate has voted to confirm President Trump’s nominee, Mrs. DeVos, to be the Secretary of the Department of Education.  I voted for her.  I do not believe for a second that she opposes public education.  On the contrary, I believe she supports it enthusiastically and with conviction.  She also supports giving parents a choice in how to educate their children, whether that choice is a public school, charter school, private school or home schooling.  She is right, in my opinion.  Her support for empowering parents to make the right choice for their children in no way undermines her passion and support for public education.

Public education has improved in the last few years, but we’re still behind.  That’s one of the things that keeps me awake at night, because I don’t believe that any parent should be forced to send his or her child to a failing school.  I know we can do better.  Americans can unravel the human genome.  We can take a diseased human heart, replace it with a new one and make it beat. We can send a person to the moon.  But we can’t seem to teach our children how to read and write at acceptable levels when we have eighteen years to do it.  We can and must do better.

You may not agree with my vote in favor of Mrs. DeVos.  But never doubt my commitment to public education.  If Secretary DeVos turns out not to be a supporter of public education, I will be the first to criticize her and call for her to step down.  However, I do not believe I will have to do that. Thanks again for writing.

United States Senator


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