New Secretary of Education | New DEC Policy and Advocacy Council

February 8, 2017

Dear DEC Members:


The recent confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education was clearly controversial.  Our community was very vocal in expressing our concerns about Ms. DeVos, in large part based on her confirmation hearing and written responses about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  It was not at all clear she understood or is committed to the principles and provisions of IDEA.  We should be proud of how thousands of us mobilized, spoke up, and shared our stories and our commitment to ensuring the rights of children with disabilities and their families.  This is what DEC is all about.   


Secretary DeVos has been confirmed and is now our Secretary of Education. We will reach out to her and offer our knowledge and expertise as she implements IDEA and hopefully expands early learning opportunities for all young children and their families.  This is our responsibility as we mark the start of a new era in education policy. DEC and CEC do not agree with many of the positions Secretary DeVos has expressed and we still have many questions for her.  DEC joins CEC with a solemn pledge to remain vigilant and continue to speak up as often as needed about the importance of IDEA. 


Over the last several months, DEC has restructured its Policy and Advocacy Council to ensure that it is ready to meet the challenges of this new era with expertise, understanding, and agility. 


View the new Policy & Advocacy Council structure


We are honored to announce that Barbara Smith has accepted the position of Policy & Advocacy Council Chair. Barbara will head the new DEC Policy and Advocacy Council leadership team, which will be joined by Michael Barla as team lead for policy and Kimberly Sopko as team lead for advocacy. These new team members join Ashley Lyons, CAN Coordinator, and Sharon Walsh, our Governmental Relations Consultant to form a powerful group of leaders, spearheading DEC's policy and advocacy efforts.  But your voices as DEC members are the most important part of that structure!  Be ready!

Over the next few weeks, you'll be receiving more information about how DEC will work to assure that your voice is heard and that the voices of infants, toddlers, young children with special needs, and their families are heard!

DEC is committed to standing with you as, together, we use our collective voices in service to infants, toddlers, and young children with special needs, and their families! 

I remain in awe, and in earnest support of the work you do through the everyday moments in homes and classrooms across this nation!  


In humble service, 

Peggy Kemp,  


Executive Director  

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