School choice and charter school advocate Betsy DeVos will be the new U.S. Secretary of Education in the Donald Trump presidential administration, pending Senate confirmation.
A former head of the Michigan Republican Party, DeVos 58, “is chairwoman of American Federation for Children, a Washington-based group that advocates for the use of school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs,” the Wall Street Journal explained.
Like Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador-designate, DeVos — a billionaire heir to the Amway fortune and a big Republican donor — supported someone else in the GOP primary. “DeVos donated money to Republican primary contenders Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush before throwing her support behind Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). She was never an enthusiastic Trump supporter,” the Washington Post recalled.
Trump also interviewed Michelle Rhee, a Democrat, for the position, but the former D.C. schools chancellor withdrew her name from consideration while declaring in contrast to the naysayers that “I have appreciated the opportunity to share my thoughts on education with the PEOTUS…Our job as Americans is to want [Trump] to succeed,” the Sacramento Bee reported.
The DeVos nomination is perhaps another example of President-elect Trump’s effort to reach out to all segments of the GOP coalition, including the party establishment that he essentially struggled with through the primaries.
In a statement, Trump described the Education nominee as “a brilliant and passionate education advocate, Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”
Trump picks school-choice advocate Betsy DeVos for education secretary https://t.co/axUOVmkkc1
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) November 23, 2016
For her part, DeVos acknowledged that “I am honored to accept this responsibility to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again. The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”
During the campaign, Donald Trump vowed to get rid of the controversial Common Core national education standards and return education decisions to the states and localities. Common Core foes claim that DeVos is a Common Core proponent (in part through her involvement with the Great Lakes Education Project), which she has denied on her website, calling the Common Core initiative a “federalized boondoggle.”
About Common Core, DeVos also wrote the following.
“I am not a supporter—period. I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When Governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense. Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position…Above all, I believe every child, no matter their zip code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 23, 2016
“Trump likely chose DeVos because of her support for public/private partnership charter schools,” Breitbart News claimed about the new Education Secretary. “Anti-Common Core grassroots groups of parents and teachers urged Trump to abandon DeVos as his choice,” Breitbart added.
Those groups on the other side of the ideological spectrum aren’t thrilled either. “Teachers unions and other proponents of public schools immediately decried DeVos’s nomination as a catastrophic attack on public education,” the Post noted.
“On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to use federal funds to encourage states to make school choice available to all poor students, including through vouchers that allow families to take public funding to private schools. That’s exactly what DeVos has zealously worked to make happen on a state-by-state basis for decades,” the Chalkbeat website claimed.
[Featured Image by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]