Media Contacts:
Karen Dolan,, 202-787-5228
Domenica Ghanem,, 202-787-5205

Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie in the Senate to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education today.

This is the response from the Institute for Policy Studies Criminalization of Poverty expert Karen Dolan:

“Much has been made of the fact that Betsy DeVos is vastly under qualified and uniformed of federal education policy, will not publicly agree to civil rights protections for vulnerable student populations, and was unfamiliar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

But we should also pay attention to how DeVos as Secretary of Education will affect the school to prison pipeline. There’s a very real possibility that even as suspension, expulsion, and juvenile detention rates have begun to decline thanks to the strides made by Obama’s Department of Education and Office of Civil Rights, a DeVos-run education department would reverse positive trends and deepen the racial punishment gap for schoolchildren.

DeVos wants to push children into charter schools and defund public schools, while Black and disabled students are suspended at much higher rates than white students at charter schools. Students who are suspended or expelled are nearly three times more likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system within a year.

Free, quality public education is the cornerstone of a democratic society. The likelihood that DeVos will act in ways that increasingly punish, pushout, and criminalize low-income black, brown, immigrant, disabled, and LGBTQ students should have been an outright disqualification.”

Available for comment:
Karen Dolan,, 202-787-5228

Criminalization of Poverty expert Karen Dolan is the lead author of the IPS report The Poor Get Prison and co-author of the IPS report Mothers at the Gate: How A Powerful Family Movement is Transforming the Juvenile Justice System.

Karen Dolan directs the Criminalization of Poverty  project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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