Elizabeth Warren pledges to pick a former public school teacher as secretary of education if elected

Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced Monday that if elected president, she would choose a former public school teacher to lead the Department of Education.

In making the pledge, which came in an email to her supporters, the Democratic presidential candidate took aim at President Donald Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, who Democrats have criticized for promoting charter schools and for-profit colleges. Devos’ lack of public education experience drew criticism from Warren and public school advocates during her confirmation hearing.

“I’ll just be blunt: Betsy DeVos is the worst Secretary of Education we’ve seen. She and her team are up to their eyeballs in conflicts of interest,” Warren wrote. “Instead of championing our students, they protect for-profit colleges that break the law and cheat them.”

“So I’m making this pledge to you: In my administration, the Secretary of Education will be a former public school teacher who is committed to public education,” the Massachusetts Democrat continued.

Warren added that her pick would be someone “who understands how low pay, tattered textbooks, and crumbling classrooms hurt students and educators,” and someone “who understands the crushing burden of student debt on students and young professionals and who is committed to actually doing something about it.”

Warren also noted that the problems she says plague the country’s education system are “bigger than Betsy DeVos — she’s the symptom of a badly broken system.”

Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, dismissed Warren’s statements about DeVos on Monday, writing in a statement to CNN that they are untrue and “nothing more than political pandering.”

DeVos has long drawn Warren’s ire.

In 2017, she penned a scathing 17-page letter to then-President-elect Trump, in which she slammed his nominee on her credentials for the position, most notably DeVos’ lack of experience concerning public education.

“There is no precedent for an Education Department Secretary nominee with your lack of experience in public education,” Warren wrote at the time. “While past nominees for Secretary of Education have served as teachers, school system leaders, and governors, and came to the Department of Education with deep executive experience in public education, you have held no such position. As such, your nomination provides the Senate and the public with few clues about your actual policy positions on a host of critical issues.”

DeVos, who was a wealthy Republican donor before taking her post at the department in 2017, is a staunch supporter of charter schools and has donated millions to groups that advocate for school privatization and voucher programs. During her confirmation hearing, Senate Democrats pointed to her lack of public education experience as a reason for not confirming her.

She was confirmed 51-50 in February 2017 after Vice President Mike Pence cast a historic tie-breaking vote.

CNN’s MJ Lee, Sara Ganim and Dan Merica contributed to this report.