NASHVILLE — Eighteen Republican governors, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, sent a letter today to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., saying they strongly support the confirmation of billionaire Betsy DeVos, a champion of private school vouchers and public charter schools, as President-elect Donald Trump's education secretary.
"As governors, we know the conditions placed on local schools by the federal government," the governors, who included Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, said in their letter to Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
DeVos' nomination first comes up before Alexander's committee. Alexander is a former U.S. education secretary.
The governors' letter says that "while state and local governments bear the chief responsibility for funding our K-12 systems, we take issue with many of the mandates imposed on states.
"That is why we strongly support Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of education. Betsy DeVos will fight to streamline the federal education bureaucracy, return authority back to states and local school boards, and ensure that more dollars are reaching the classroom."
The letter describes DeVos as a "passionate supporter of increasing parental engagement in their children's education and of harnessing the power of competition to drive improvement in all K012 schools, whether they be public, private or virtual."
Also signing the letter were the Republican governors of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and territory of Guam.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's name and signature was not on the letter.