Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have selected Rep. Virginia Foxx (RNC) as chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in the 115th Congress. “My colleagues have entrusted me with a significant responsibility,” said Foxx, who promised to “hold government institutions to the highest standards of accountability and transparency, with a constant eye towards eliminating waste and inefficiency.”

Choice Advocate

An ardent supporter of parental freedom in education, Dr. Foxx comes to the committee leadership position with a solid voting record on school choice. In the 112th Congress, she supported House Amendment 305, which would have created opportunity scholarships for military dependent children with special education needs. In the same Congress she voted yes on HR 471 to reauthorize the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC-OSP). Years later, in the 114th Congress, she signed on as a cosponso of the DC-OSP reauthorization bill. On another issue of interest to private education, Dr. Foxx cosponsored HR 5 in 2015, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which ultimately evolved into the Every Students Succeeds Act. This past October, Dr. Foxx joined representatives from Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina to visit North Hills Christian School in Salisbury, NC, where, according to the Salisbury Post, she told students during an assembly, “You’re fortunate that you live in a country that gives you the freedom to choose your schools.”

Education and Career

Dr. Foxx earned a bachelor’s degree, a master of arts degree, and an Ed.D. from the University of North Carolina. She served as a research assistant, instructor, and administrator in higher education within the state and eventually became president of Mayland Community College. Prior to her election to the U.S. House in 2004, Dr. Foxx served for 10 years in the North Carolina Senate. Known as a tireless worker in Congress, Dr. Foxx apparently cultivated that habit early on. According to a recent profile in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “she started working as a weaver at age 12 to help support her family. In the mornings, before school, she’d milk the cows, carry water, and bring in wood for the fire. After school, she’d do it all again.” The piece goes on: “Even today, at 73, she works 16-hour days, arriving at the U.S. Capitol building at 7:30 and staying until midnight to answer constituents’ letters.” Her office sports a desk plate that reads, “Trust God, Work Smarter, Work Harder.” Asked by the Chronicle reporter “what drives her to keep up her punishing schedule,” Foxx replied: “I love what I do. Someone told me a long time ago I was a missionary at heart. I guess that’s true.” Frugal Drill Sargent Foxx has a reputation for being tough when necessary. One journalist described her as “half-grandmother, half-drill sergeant,” and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) told Politico, “She reminds you of the toughest teacher you had. When she taps the chalkboard and says time to listen, everybody stops.” She’s also frugal. As the Chronicle piece puts it, “She shops at thrift stores, uses water recycled from her washing machine to water her plants, and takes food from receptions back to her office for lunch.” Add to all that a deep devotion to her faith. Dr. Foxx recently published God Is in the House, a collection of essays from Christian colleagues in Congress on the role of faith in their lives. In her own essay she reveals, “[M]y constant prayers are for His wisdom and guidance to direct my life.”

Committee Plans

As for her plans as chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Dr. Foxx recently told Politico, “I’m going to push to diminish the role of the federal government in everything it’s in that isn’t in the Constitution.” She added, “I definitely don’t think the Department of Education has any business doing all the things that it’s doing.”

This article is from the Council for American Private Education, CAPE Outlook – January 2017 Issue #421. Read in pdf here