Tuesday | January 31, 2017

VIDEO: Senator Scott in HELP Committee: This is a real debate about how kids today will perform as adults tomorrow

Washington -U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) delivered remarks in the Senate HELP committee ahead of voting in support of the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary. You can watch Senator Scott's remarks below:


You can watch Senator Scott's remarks by clicking photo orHERE.

Full transcript here:

This debate about Betsy DeVos has been an interesting, long, and for some, a painful debate, without any question.

I think we all have a consciousness about the importance of education in this country - I know I do. I think my friends on the left have a sincere desire to make sure that children have access to quality public education, and I commend and share and say amen to that. I, on this side as well as all of our members on the right, also feel that public education is an absolute necessity.

I know that my phone lines - I assume all of our phone lines - have been bombarded by calls. Senator Burr, have you gotten a call or two yet?

I will tell you that I started answering some of those calls myself as they came into the office. I started engaging with many of the teachers that were called my office. I found it very interesting. It was educational for me to chat with my teachers in South Carolina about the place of public education as a priority in our state, about the impact of our education - wonderful for so many students.

But there was, without any question, high levels of confusion around Betsy DeVos. As I delved into, there were questions within other questions. I simply found that the information that they were provided was inconsistent with the reality of who she is.

And more importantly, the more I spoke with my teachers around the state, the more I realized we were not having the right conversation. We were debating Betsy DeVos as if Betsy DeVos, according to some on the left, can single-handedly change the education system in America. This is patently false.She does not have that power.

As a matter fact, what she hassaid consistently is that she would rather return the power to thestates, which is the rightdirection for education.

As I spoke with so many of these teachers, many of my teacherscame back to mind. Teachers likeMrs. Lynch, who I actually failed herclass; love Mrs. Lynch.Ms. Myers, my Spanish teacher, Iactually failed her class, too,but they were both really goodteachers.I thought about Mrs. Greensburg,my government teacher - I diddecent in government.I thought about Mrs. Cryer,Coach Roberts, my fourth gradeteacher, Mrs. Lynn, my secondSpanish teacher, Ms. Mary.I thought about the dedicationand commitment to education,educating me of my teachers.

I am a blessed man because inhigh school I found a path thatallowed me to experience much of my potential. But, unfortunately…unfortunately, this is not the way it is throughout our country.

Some said that the power of education cannot be overstated. I would suggest that the result of education in our underperforming schools cannot be overlooked. Kids of color, kids who live in the poor school districts in this nation, here's what they face:

They face higher levels of incarceration.

They face higher levels of government dependency.

They face higher levels of unemployment,

But they face lower levels of lifetime incomes, lower levels of professional progress, lower levels of economic independence.

The communities that we're talking about are the communities I grew up in. This is not a debate, a philosophical debate about where we're heading as a country in education. This is a real debate about how kids today will perform as adults tomorrow. And our education system, where it is underperforming, leaves our kids incredibly vulnerable.

If you think about where we are from the competitive position against other OECD countries, you'll find it very clear. In 2015, we were 36th in math. We were 18th in science, 14th in reading.

We are spending somewhere near $700 billion on education, and our performance is subpar. And for those kids trapped in underperforming schools, this is a sentence for the rest of their lives. We should be just as focused on those underperforming schools, those kids that are trapped, as we are the overall education apparatus.

Let me just say this, the national report card on public education: in math, 40%, in the fourth grade, are where they need to be. In reading, 36% are where they need to be. For kids of color - in math, 20% are where they need to be, in reading, 30%.

What am I suggesting? That the real debate isn't Betsy DeVos. The real debate is generations, generations of kids, who are stuck in underperforming schools. That is a travesty.

Related Issues:  Opportunity AgendaEducation