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Today it was announced that President-Elect Donald Trump has chosen Betsy DeVos, a top Republican Donor, and School Choice Advocate to head the Department of Education. As teachers, we've already had a contentious relationship with the two predecessors to the job, but before we get into policy, it's important to understand who Betsy DeVoe is and what she MAY bring to the national office.
Here you will find a truncated list of what we know about her as of today:
- Mrs. DeVos' father,Edgar Prince, built his own auto parts supplier, in Holland, Michigan.
- Her brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater USA, a private security contractor.
- She currently serves as the Chair of the American Federation for Children,a Washington, D.C.-based single-issue organization that promotes charter school education.
- DeVos serves on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a group led by former Florida Governor. Jeb Bush. Note: This should be interesting since the younger Bush was one's Trump's opponents in the primaries and openly promotes not only school choice but also the Common Core standards.
5. According to the New York Times, Mrs. DeVos openly criticized Trump during the primaries and spent time raising money for other candidates.
6. Betsy DeVos and her family are considered Michigan royalty. The DeVos family are heirs to the Amway fortune and in the last three elections (2012, 2008, 2004), members of the family gave nearly $9.5 million to party committees and candidates. Note: The DeVos family gave nearly 1.4 million in 2 months before the August 2nd primary.
7. According to the Detroit News, in 2000, Betsy and Dick DeVos-funded an unsuccessful statewide ballot initiative to amend the state Constitution to allow tax dollars to be used for private school tuition through education vouchers
8.In addition, her husband Dick DeVos unsuccessfully ran for Governor of Michigan in 2006.
9.In 2012, Dick DeVos led the charge in getting the Legislature to make Michigan a right-to- work state. Ultimately, eliminating work rules that made financial support of unions a condition of employment for teachers in public schools.Betsy and Dick DeVos founded their own charter high school, the West Michigan Aviation Academy, Click To Tweet
As we wait to see what Mrs. DeVos will actually do for ALL stakeholders in education, here are some initial reactions from writers at The Educator's Room.
"Education continues to be run by people who have never been in a classroom. Just once I would like to see someone with real world classroom experience be part of the system making laws about education. Someone who has been in the trenches. Someone who loves the kids. Not a millionaire who just sends her children to a private school then makes laws affecting my students everyday."
"Well, there goes public education."
"I suppose in one way, as Diane Ravitch has said, this will put education privatizers out in the open instead of operating in the shadows, and we will see what that truly means for universal free education for all students in the country."
"She has done nothing for public schools in Michigan but advocate for charter schools and vouchers."
"I'm disheartened that once again there is someone chosen as Secretary of Education who have NO real experience in American Classroom. Shame on elected official who confirms this nomination."
"With this pick, the trend of politicians with no experience in a classroom or public education in general continues. To appoint someone who lacks the sensitivity and understanding that our students need from their teachers flies in the face of everything we stand for. If people or this upcoming administration wants to help out public schools, real leadership from the classroom is needed."
A right turn away from the philosophy of Mark Twain, "We believe that out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation.