How Rob and Bob Vote on Issues that Matter to Women (part 4: Education)


EducationIn the final part of our Women’s History Month series, let’s examine Rob Portman and Bob Latta’s recent records on education. Sen. Portman recently made news by voting in favor of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, despite vocal protests from constituents all across Ohio. More about that below. How does Rob do overall? And what about Bob Latta? Read on to find out more.

Rob Portman

Many Ohioans were outraged that Sen. Portman voted in favor of Betsy DeVos, especially after newspapers drew attention to at $51,000 campaign donation to Portman by the DeVos family. So it’s worth examining this controversial vote and how Sen. Portman defends it.

According to the Toledo Blade Portman favored DeVos for several reasons. Let’s take a look at them and do a little fact checking:

Portman’s rationale But….
she’s “the daughter of a public school teacher.” DeVos has never worked in, attended, or sent her own children to public school. Faced with this reality in her hearing, she weakly noted that she “tutored in one” for awhile.
she “will be a strong advocate for … our public schools. Teacher’s unions across the country balked at DeVos’ appointment precisely because she has worked tirelessly in Michigan to undermine public schools in favor of voucher programs that funnel public funds to private (and often religious) schools.
she “made clear she will enforce the Individuals with Disability Education Act.” during her confirmation hearing, DeVos made it painfully clear she didn’t even know what the IDEA was, let alone the government’s role in enforcing it.

Portman ultimately says that “I believe that presidents deserve considerable deference as they put together their team,” and that’s probably closer to the real reason than any of the other things he said–at least it’s more believable.

Rob and Education: Overview

So how does Portman stack up big picture? When it comes to education  issues, the National Education Association (NEA) grades him with two “F”s and a “C” in recent years. The American Library Association (ALA) rates him at 50% in 2015 — another F. Seems like Portman is on probation.

Key Votes

Portman’s support of DeVos is well known. He also supported repealing a rule that would have established guidelines for states to report on teacher preparation. But, he was the only Republican to vote against repealing a rule that would have extended accountability measures to for-profit charter schools.

In 2015, he for a failed amendment to education legislation that would have provided $24 million for voucher programs. However, he did vote against another (failed) amendment that would have converted education funding to block grants (meaning that some states could choose not to fund public education at all). Portman also crossed party lines to vote for Sen. Franken’s “Ending Discrimination” amendment that sought to protect students from “discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Bottom Line

Hopefully Portman will continue making common sense decisions on education, because his recent record raises concerns. Issues like vouchers for private schools, for-profit charter accountability, and education block grant funding are sure to come up in a Republican-controlled Senate, so keep an eye on Sen. Portman, and let Rob know that his education record needs improvement.

Bob Latta

So how does Bob Latta stack up? Rep. Latta hasn’t been involved in high-profile education-related votes lately. His recent record is mixed.

Bob and Education: Overview

There is a split decision by education advocacy groups. He supported both House bills the ALA evaluated in 2015, earning him a 100% score from that group, but the NEA grades him as a 0% F for that same year.

Key Votes

In the last legislative session, Rep. Latta voted to defund DACA, to convert education funding to block grants, and re-authorize a voucher program in Washington DC, just to name a few.

Bottom Line

Rep. Latta’s education votes are not quite as far right as some of his other positions, but especially when it comes to supporting public education, he’s a legislator to keep an eye on. Issues like vouchers for private schools, for-profit charter accountability, and education block grant funding are sure to come up in a Republican-controlled House, so and let Bob know that you’re paying attention to his votes on education.