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U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (cspan)

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney this week blasted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for failing to respond to letters sent a year ago from Connecticut officials and students upset by comments she made then that characterized East Hartford High as a dangerous and struggling school.

Last May, DeVos pointed to East Hartford High School as an example of the need for school vouchers, supported by the Trump Administration, to help parents afford to send their children from struggling public schools to private schools. She cited comments from “Michael,” a 2000 graduate who described the East Hartford school as nothing more than a dangerous day care.

Within 48 hours, letters were sent to DeVos from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, Representative John Larson, school officials and students who objected to her description and invited her to visit to see for herself that she was wrong.


DeVos appeared this week before the House Education Committee where Courtney questioned why she had failed to respond to the letters and accept their invitation.

“Would you please respond to letters written politely that point out current facts?” he asked.

“As soon as I get enough of my staff in place to be able to respond adequately,” she said.

Courtney interrupted and dismissed her response as a poor excuse saying “a year is a long time” to wait.

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (cspan)

The issue is somewhat personal to Courtney, whose daughter graduated in 2013 from Connecticut IB Academy, a magnet school that is connected to East Hartford High School and has been rated second best in the state by U.S. News and World Report. Courtney said his wife had decided to send their daughter to the academy.

“She would not send my daughter to a dangerous school,” he told DeVos.

Courtney also suggested that the Trump Administration should support magnet schools that are accountable to taxpayers rather than siphon federal funds to support unaccountable private charter schools. And, he said that DeVos should visit the school and see if the story told by someone who graduated 17 years ago has been “overtaken by real life and real events.”

Watch the exchange below:

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