Speaking at a townhall event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren exuberantly told the crowd that if elected president, her Secretary of Education would have to be vetted by a nine-year-old girl who identifies as a boy. The child asked her a question at a CNN presidential candidate forum about gay and transgender issues last October.
A member of the townhall crowd asked Warren, “How would you make education inclusive for all backgrounds?”
I love this question. And the answer is: We need a Secretary of Education who believes in public education. In fact, I have two qualifications that I talk about over and over for my Secretary of Education. The first: It has to be someone who’s taught in a public school, hello? And part 2, because it came from a young trans person who asked about a welcoming community and I said it starts with a Secretary of Education who has a lot to do with where we spend our money, with what gets advanced in our public schools, with what the standards are, and I said, “I’m going to have a Secretary of Education that this young trans person interviews on my behalf, and only if this person believes that our Secretary or Secretary of Education nominee is absolutely committed to creating a welcoming environment, a safe environment, and a full educational curriculum for everyone will that person actually be advanced to be Secretary of Education.
The child Warren was apparently referencing was a young girl who goes by the name of Jacob. That exchange back in October went like this:
Jacob: “My name’s Jacob, and I’m a 9-year-old transgender American.”
Warren, applauding: “All right, Jacob!”
Jacob: My question is, what will you do in your first week as president to make sure that kids like me feel safer in schools, and what do you think schools need to do better to make sure that I don’t have I don’t have to worry about anything but my homework?”
Oh, I like that question, Jacob. We’re going to do this. So let me start by saying I want to have a secretary of education who both believes in public education and believes in the value of every one of our kids and is willing to enforce our civil rights laws. It turns out that when the Department of Education was set up many years ago, the Secretary of Education was given a whole lot of power over the public schools and over the rules and how they’re enforced. And we’ve had some Secretaries of Education who’ve been better, and we’ve had one that’s been a whole lot worse. Her name is Betsy DeVos. (applause)
So, when I’m president, she’ll be gone. (applause) And here’s my plan, Jacob: I’m gonna find just the right Secretary of Education, but here’s what I plan to do. I want to make sure that the person that I think is the right Secretary of Education meets you and hears your story and then I want you to tell me if you think that’s the right person and then we’ll make the deal.