Betsy Devos’s presumed agenda: Dismantle public education
Local experts warn that Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education will wage war on “government schools.”
Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of the Department of Education, might not be the worst of the megabucks donors and right-wing crusaders in Mr. Trump's prospective cabinet.
There's Scott Pruitt, the EPA head who's sued the EPA. Rick Perry, the energy secretary who wanted to dump the Department of Energy. Andrew Puzder, the labor secretary and fast-food mogul who opposed a $10 minimum wage. And Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state who heads the world's biggest oil company and is Russia's decorated BFF. That's just to mention a few.
But the DeVos appointment, like all the others, is causing alarm. Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis told me DeVos is "a nightmare." University of Illinois College of Education professor Pauline Lipman, in an interview last week, said she'll be "a really significant threat." And American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten issued a statement claiming that Trump has selected "the most ideological, anti-public education nominee" in the Department of Education's history.
"Betsy DeVos is everything Donald Trump said is wrong in America—an ultra-wealthy heiress who uses her money to game the system and push a special-interest agenda," Weingarten wrote. By nominating her, "Trump makes it clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding, and destroying public education in America."
DeVos, as you've no doubt gathered by now, is not a friend of teachers' unions. Nor of what she calls "government schools"—traditional public neighborhood schools—though she has no personal experience with them. She's never been a teacher or a school administrator, and she never attended public school herself. Neither did any of her four children. So what, besides millions of dollars in campaign contributions, is leading her to the federal government's top education job?
A native of Holland, Michigan, DeVos is industrial royalty—daughter of the founder of Prince Manufacturing, a maker of machines and parts for the auto industry. Descended from Dutch-German immigrants who came to America to escape government interference in the Dutch Reformed Church, Betsy was educated at private Christian schools and graduated Betsy Devos’s presumed agenda: Dismantle public education | Politics | Chicago Reader: