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Lehigh Valley Election News

U.S. Senate candidate McCormick visits Nazareth with ex-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Dave McCormick
Jenny Roberts
Dave McCormick speaks to voters Wednesday in Nazareth at an event with former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Aly Warner, chair of the Northampton County chapter of Moms for Liberty, hosted the event.

NAZARETH, Pa. — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick stopped in the borough Wednesday for a “fireside chat” with former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

About 40 people attended the campaign event at The Phoenix banquet hall. It was moderated by Aly Warner, chair of the Northampton County chapter of Moms for Liberty.

McCormick, who is challenging three-term U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., spoke about his views on everything education, including Title IX changes, school choice options and job opportunities in the trades.

“We’re going backwards in many ways in our schools,” said McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO and combat veteran endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Gender in schools, Title IX updates

When it comes to gender, McCormick said schools are being hijacked by transgender ideology.

“I’m fundamentally opposed to [schools] engaging with our children in a way that’s trying to shape their views of who they are from a gender perspective,” he said, adding that’s the role of parents.

“I’m fundamentally opposed to [schools] engaging with our children in a way that’s trying to shape their views of who they are from a gender perspective."
Dave McCormick, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate

McCormick and DeVos spoke about Title IX changes made by President Joseph Biden’s administration that take effect in August.

The changes codify 2021 guidance from the Education Department directing schools to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to reporting from NBC News.

“The Biden Title IX rule is fundamentally unfair, and it is absolutely antithetical to the intention of the Title IX rule, which was to give women and girls equal access to their education and sports,” said DeVos, who served in the Trump administration and is a former leader of the Michigan Republican Party.

McCormick, a father to six daughters, said he’s against “biological males” being able to compete with “biological females.” He said such changes would “gut women’s sports, gut Title IX.”

The Biden administration’s Title IX changes do not specifically address transgender students’ participation in sports. However, the changes push back against sweeping policies to ban transgender students from “sex-separate" facilities or activities consistent with their "gender identity,” according to reporting from the Associated Press.

McCormick said Wednesday he’s opposed to students using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity if that doesn’t match their biological sex.

Maria Ault, a parent and founder of the community group Southern Lehigh Grassroots, attended Wednesday's event. Ault said she's concerned about the Title IX changes.

Ault agrees with McCormick’s position on bathroom access because she fears that girls may be sexually assaulted in the restroom, she said.

Lydia Rose, a transgender woman and Nazareth activist, spoke with LehighValleyNews.com after the campaign event. Rose said she would have organized a protest of McCormick’s event if she had learned about it sooner.

On bathroom access, Rose said there aren’t many transgender people statistically so she’s surprised there’s concerns about them using school bathrooms – about 1.4% of all teens ages 13-17 in the U.S. identify as transgender.

“We just want to use the bathroom,” she said. “We’re not in there for nefarious things.”

Biden’s Title IX changes also dismantle rules created by DeVos to protect college students accused of sexual assault, and instead, put additional safeguards in place for victims of sexual assault, according to reporting from PBS NewsHour.

School choice options

McCormick said the COVID-19 pandemic helped parents become aware of the quality of curricula and teaching in schools. Parents have become energized to run for school board as a result, he said.

Warner said that’s how she and fellow Moms for Liberty members first got involved with local school board meetings in Nazareth — they began paying attention to district decisions during the pandemic and continued attending meetings in the years since. The Northampton County chapter of Moms for Liberty officially formed about two years ago.

“Wherever we can, we support parents’ rights,” said Warner, a Nazareth Area School District parent.

“Wherever we can, we support parents’ rights."
Aly Warner, chair of Northampton County chapter of Moms for Liberty

DeVos also said public education has a monopolistic structure with the teachers’ union at the head. McCormick said he’s “pro-teacher,” but agreed with DeVos’ assessment.

On school choice, McCormick said options already exist “for people with money.”

He supports educational freedom for everybody, he said, alluding to school voucher programs. McCormick said dollars should be tied to students so families have “the freedom to choose a school that’s going to give them the most opportunity appropriate for their kids.”

Ault again agreed with McCormick’s take on school choice.

“A lot of parents unfortunately may feel stuck because they might not be able to afford to send their children to let’s say a Catholic school,” she said.

Focus on the trades

McCormick also spoke about the importance of acknowledging college isn’t for everybody, and creating other job pathways into fields like the trades and manufacturing.

McCormick said he wants to increase skilled-worker training opportunities through three priorities. He wants to adjust the GI Bill to support short-term job training for veterans. He also wants to adjust federal Pell Grants and student loans to cover short-term, skills-based training.

"McCormick is out-of-touch with Pennsylvanians and voters will reject him in November."
TaNisha Cameron, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Spokesperson

Additionally, McCormick said he wants to completely privatize student loans, and he took a jab at Biden’s student loan forgiveness efforts, calling them “un-American.”

Nazareth Area School Board member Elmo “Jake” Frey Jr. attended the event Wednesday along with board President Linda Stubits.

Frey said in an interview after the event that he likes McCormick’s focus on job training.

Frey said he would like to see the creation of a program like the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and 1940s that employed young men on environmental projects during the Great Depression.

“All these areas where we had floods and tornadoes and houses are destroyed — if the government would have a program like that, these young kids could learn a trade [and] be carpenters, heavy-equipment operators, electricians,” he said.

“It would give them a chance to do something for the country, plus learn at the same time,” Frey added.

TaNisha Cameron, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, issued the following statement regarding McCormick’s stop in Northampton County:

“David McCormick makes his priorities clear by showing Pennsylvanians who he stands with: insurrectionists, anti-choice extremists, and now fringe far-right groups and Betsy DeVos, who made it harder to investigate sexual assaults on college campuses. McCormick is out-of-touch with Pennsylvanians and voters will reject him in November.”