For Immediate Release

Civil and Human Rights Groups: Education Secretary Must Enforce Civil Rights Law and Advance Public Education

WASHINGTON - Today, 33 civil and human rights groups issued the following statement in response to President-elect Trump’s intent to nominate Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education:

“Equal access to education is a cornerstone of the civil rights movement. The Secretary of Education’s role as the enforcer of education and civil rights laws 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.

We are deeply concerned that the President-elect seeks to nominate as a Secretary of Education a candidate whose experience—and lack of experience—calls into question core principles of fairness, equality and a commitment to education. DeVos’ very public support for voucher schemes which siphon away all-too-limited public education funds and fail to provide protection from discrimination and segregation, and her opposition to appropriate oversight of charter schools, run contrary to the department’s mission to ‘promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.’

DeVos’ connections to anti-LGBTQ organizations including those that promote dangerous and discredited ’conversion therapy,’ groups that seek tolimit a woman’s right to health care and civil rights protections for survivors of violence, and her opposition to affirmative action policies demonstrate a lack of respect and appreciation for the diversity of our nation’s classrooms and fail to recognize a long and pernicious history of discrimination against groups of students. While we have heard little of DeVos’ record with regard to the rights and interests of English learners, immigrant students, students with disabilities and religious minorities, we are deeply troubled by the unacceptable rhetoric of the President-elect during his campaign and the absence of a record of DeVos’ support for these students.

The 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 respecting, valuing and protecting every single student in this country – without regard to LGBTQ status, family income, race, home language, gender, religion, disability or immigration status. Our nation’s laws, economy, future and children deserve no less.

We will continue to review the record of the intended nominee and expect any Secretary of Education confirmed by the Senate to clearly and unambiguously commit to enforce the nation’s laws and respect the dignity and value of every student.”


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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

Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Education Law Center - PA


Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Laotian American National Alliance

League of United Latin American Citizens


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of La Raza

National Education Association

National Women's Law Center

New York Appleseed

OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates


Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Public Advocates

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Southern Poverty Law Center

Stand for Children


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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society – an America as good as its ideals.

The Leadership Conference is a 501(c)(4) organization that engages in legislative advocacy.  It was founded in 1950 and has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.

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