07.13.21

Murray Urges Confirmation for Education Nominees Catherine Lhamon, Elizabeth Brown, and Roberto Rodríguez

Senator Murray: “It’s clear all of our witnesses are well qualified for the positions they have been nominated for, and I look forward to hearing from them about how we tackle the challenges facing schools and students across the country.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, during a hearing, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, urged her colleagues to support the nominations of Catherine Lhamon, to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education (ED), Elizabeth Brown to be General Counsel at ED, and Roberto Rodríguez to be Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at ED. During the hearing, Senator Murray highlighted each nominees’ extensive experience and their commitment to ensuring that every student can get a high-quality education in a safe environment.

 

“We have three excellent nominees before us today, each with a track record showing they are experienced, committed to serving students, and exactly who we need in these roles,” Senator Murray said in her opening remarks. “It’s clear all of our witnesses are well qualified for the positions they have been nominated for, and I look forward to hearing from them about how we tackle the challenges facing schools and students across the country.”

 

During the hearing, Senator Murray also noted the important work ahead in order to support and protect students, including by putting forward a new, strong Title IX rule to undo the damage of the previous administration and address the sexual assault and harassment crisis in our schools. Senator Murray also urged the Administration to continue their efforts to ensure that all students are safe at school, including by upholding civil rights protections for all students—including  students with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ students—and addressing sexism, racism, ableism, bigotry, and bullying in schools.

 

“Ultimately, what it comes down to is: you should be able to receive a high quality education and thrive in this country regardless of your race, family income, disability, sex, or zip code. I’m pleased to say, Ms. Lhamon, Mr. Rodríguez, and Ms. Brown have worked throughout their careers to make sure that is the case,” continued Senator Murray. “I have no doubt they will continue to do so when confirmed, and I look forward to working with them in their new roles.”

 

Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

 

“We have three excellent nominees before us today, each with a track record showing they are experienced, committed to serving students, and exactly who we need in these roles.

 

“In 2013, Ms. Lhamon was confirmed by voice vote to be the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, the same position she is nominated for now.

 

“As Assistant Secretary, she proved herself as a champion for all students through her work to protect students’ civil rights, combat sexual assault, and more.

 

“She continued this work as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and as the Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for President Biden.

 

“Mr. Rodríguez has similarly proven himself as a champion for schools and students through his current work as Chief Executive Officer of Teach Plus—an education advocacy organization, and his work on the Domestic Policy Council under President Obama to increase educational equity for students—including his work to support community colleges, reform student loans, and increase Pell Grant awards.

“And he’s also a HELP Committee alum who worked for Chairman Kennedy on major education legislation—welcome back.

 

“Our third nominee, Ms. Brown, has served students at Georgetown University as Vice President and General Counsel since 2013.

 

“Ms. Brown also worked in the Obama Administration as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary, and Acting Chief Performance Officer at the Office of Management and Budget.

 

“It’s clear all of our witnesses are well qualified for the positions they have been nominated for, and I look forward to hearing from them about how we tackle the challenges facing schools and students across the country.

 

“Unfortunately, the previous Administration took major steps backwards when it came to supporting and protecting students, for example significantly reducing efforts to enforce civil rights protections, undermining efforts to hold for-profit colleges accountable, and rescinding important policies addressing campus sexual assault.

 

“I’m especially glad to see Secretary Cardona and the Biden Administration are working to get us back on track in the fight against sexual assault, and actually listening to students and survivors—instead of ignoring them.

“The previous Administration’s Title IX rule made it harder for a student to report an incident of sexual assault or harassment, and easier for a school to sweep this kind of violence under the rug.

 

“The Department’s ongoing review of the DeVos Title IX rule is a critical step toward undoing the last Administration’s harmful policies.

 

“I hope following its review, the Biden Administration will protect students and survivors by putting forward a new, strong rule to prevent schools from avoiding responsibility for responding to sexual harassment and assault by limiting their responsibility if students report to the wrong person, provide a robust definition of sexual harassment, ensure survivors can share their story in a way that avoids re-traumatization, provide more information to the public about sexual harassment and assault cases, including making sure the public can tell which schools have requested religious exemptions from Title IX, and protect student confidentiality.

 

“Of course, the Department’s efforts here are just a start—there is a lot more we need to do to better protect all of our students.

 

“I’m looking forward to working with the Biden Administration to ensure every student can learn in a safe environment, free from discrimination, harassment, and assault.

“And we must keep pushing on other fronts too, like making sure every student receives a high quality public K-12 education, families can access affordable and high-quality child care and pre-K, students can access and persist in higher education while minimizing the burden of student debt, and schools and child care facilities are safe—from pandemics, environmental hazards, gun violence, and more.

 

“We also need to tackle the deep education inequities in our country.

 

“Meaning, we need to root out systemic racism that continues to plague our nation’s education system, uphold our civil rights protections for all students, including  students with disabilities, address inequities in school funding, support and protect LGBTQ+ students, and address sexism, racism, ableism, bigotry, and bullying in schools.

 

“Ultimately, what it comes down to is: you should be able to receive a high quality education and thrive in this country regardless of your race, family income, disability, sex, or zip code.

“I’m pleased to say, Ms. Lhamon, Mr. Rodríguez, and Ms. Brown have worked throughout their careers to make sure that is the case.

 

“I have no doubt they will continue to do so when confirmed, and I look forward to working with them in their new roles.

 

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