Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) grilled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday for her “hypocrisy” after she proposed major cuts to federal literacy instruction and programs.
During a hearing in the House Committee on Education and Labor, DeVos presented her controversial proposed education budget for 2020. The education secretary’s proposal includes cuts of $190 million from literacy instruction and $27 million from grants aimed at improving literacy.
Harder staunchly renounced DeVos’ proposal during Wednesday’s hearing.
“I don’t understand why you think it’s such a hard choice to cut every single federal-dedicated literacy program in a time when only one-third of our school kids can read,” Harder told the education secretary.
DeVos attempted to rebut the congressman’s statement by arguing the federal government should not “pour billions of dollars” into programs that produce “stagnant” results.
Watch the video below:
.@RepJoshHarder to Sec. DeVos: You’ve gone around the country talking about the importance of literacy, then you come back to Washington and propose eliminating every single literacy program fully dedicated to addressing the problem. pic.twitter.com/elIas3I1C7
— Committee on Education & Labor (@EdLaborCmte) April 10, 2019
Harder quickly fired back at DeVos, refuting her notion that it’s not the job of the federal government to support reading programs at the state and local level.
“Well, Secretary DeVos, I hear your words, and yet one of the programs that you cut, the learn program, helps those states and local districts develop comprehensive literacy programs to actually solve this problem,” the congressman proclaimed.
“What kills me about this isn’t just the context of the fact that we’re cutting some of the most critical programs to improve literacy,” he stated. “It’s the hypocrisy of what I see from this department.
“If you go on the website of the Department of Education right now, the picture is you reading a book to a kid, and that’s phenomenal,” he pointed out. “And you’ve gone around the country reading books to kids, talking about the importance of literacy,” he added.
“But then you get back to Washington, you go into the cloak of bureaucracy in a back room somewhere, and you cut every single program, and indeed, you actually eliminate every single program fully developed and fully dedicated towards addressing the problem that you’re actually saying needs to be solved.”
“And I think that hypocrisy is disappointing, shocking, and, frankly, really heartbreaking at a time when we have some real challenges in our educational system,” the congressman said, reiterating that many children need more literacy instruction.
Although many have voiced concern over DeVos’ spree of proposed cuts for 2020, it is likely that many of her suggestions will not be implemented, as Congress must also approve the budget.