LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren pledged on Monday that if she wins the White House in 2020, her education secretary will be “a former public school teacher who is committed to public education.”
In remarks Warren planned to deliver to a teachers union in Philadelphia, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts described Republican president Donald Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, as “the worst secretary of education we’ve seen.”
Liz Hill, press secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, said: “The accusations lobbed at the secretary are nothing more than political pandering.”
DeVos is a reviled figure among many Democrats and teachers unions. She is a proponent of school vouchers, school choice and charter schools, options critics see as undermining public education. DeVos, who has no teaching experience, has also eased regulations on for-profit colleges.
Warren, a former educator, vowed to take a different course.
“Let’s get a person with real teaching experience,” Warren said in an email ahead of the town hall. “A person who understands how low pay, tattered textbooks, and crumbling classrooms hurt students and educators. A person who understands the crushing burden of student debt on students and young professionals and who is committed to actually doing something about it.”
The Education Department did not immediately respond to Warren’s comments.
Warren was appearing before a gathering of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers union.
Her remarks come as many of her Democratic rivals court America’s teachers, an important constituency in the party’s nominating contest, in their battle to become the candidate to take on Trump in next year’s presidential election.
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, another Democratic candidate, has pledged $315 billion over 10 years to increase teacher pay. It was the first major policy proposal Harris rolled out after she declared her candidacy.
Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis