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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Courtney Challenges Secretary Betsy DeVos On Her Disparaging Comments About East Hartford High School

May 22, 2018
Press Release

(Washington, DC) —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, questioned the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos about comments she made in 2017 disparaging East Hartford High School during a committee hearing. Additionally, Courtney questioned the Secretary on whether she planned to respond to letters from members of the community and from Congressman John B. Laron (CT-01) on the matter. DeVos declined to commit to responding to those letters until she can hire additional staff members to answer her mail. DeVos has been serving as Secretary of Education since February 7, 2017.

Watch the full video of the exchange here

Following the committee hearing, Courtney offered these additional comments:

“Moments ago, I called on Sec. Betsy DeVos to account for misleading comments she made about East Hartford High School a year ago and her refusal to respond to Connecticut officials and students who politely challenged her facts. During her 2017 testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Sec. DeVos stated that she had heard from a former student, who attended the school 17 years ago, that East Hartford High is nothing more than adult daycare … a dangerous daycare. As reported in Connecticut media, she repeated this disparaging claim three more times. Since Sec. DeVos has declined on multiple occasions to hear the other side of the story, including her refusal to respond to letters from students, parents, teachers, the Governor, and John Larson who attended the school, taught there, and now represents it in Congress – I laid it out for her publicly at today’s hearing.

“East Hartford High School has been working hard to improve outcomes and the test scores of its students. It is clear that year over year, more students are attending school, more students are positively engaged, and more students are completing their education in four years. In addition, its campus hosts the Connecticut IB Academy, a magnet school which was recognized as the 2nd best high school in our state, and the 125th best high school in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The schools share facilities and benefit from the co-location. And despite the Secretary’s characterization, it is in fact not a “dangerous” environment. I know because my daughter attended IB and was in the East Hartford High building on a regular basis and never felt threatened. The Secretary should answer her correspondence and come to Connecticut to see firsthand both the challenges and the successes taking place in our state’s public schools.”