After the grassroots put their faith in Trump’s promises to end Common Core, his appointment of Betsy DeVos, an advocate of the standards, was a huge disappointment to them. Nevertheless, they remained steadfast in their support for Trump, and decided to send him a letter asking that any future appointments would hold the same views Trump expressed during the campaign. Unfortunately, their pleas were not heard. A list of education staffers sworn in this past Friday indicates that the Department of Education (ED) will be aligned to DeVos’ agenda, not Trump’s. Even if DeVos is not confirmed, likeminded people will be controlling White House education policies.
Despite Trump’s lambasting of Jeb Bush’s education policies, the list of staffers looks more like the choices that would have been made under a Jeb Bush administration. In fact, Politicoreported that two of Jeb’s former employees have been given top posts on the education team. Josh Venable, who worked for both Jeb’s campaign and FEE, was listed as Trump’s “top choice for chief of staff.” Andrew Kossack, another alum of FEE, was also added to the mix. Kossack also served as general counsel to Indiana’s former superintendent of education, Tony Bennett, who championed the adoption of Common Core.
The grassroots are beginning to fear that Trump’s criticism of Jeb’s support for Common Core was all an act. Why wouldn’t they? Jason Botel, executive director of the Maryland education advocacy group MarylandCAN (financed by Bill Gates), also joined the Trump administration as senior White House adviser for education. Like DeVos, he has a long history of supporting Common Core. Unlike DeVos, there is video to prove it. During a forum held by the Maryland Public Policy Institute in 2014, he stated that, not only was he “excited about Common Core,” but that he would “insist on it” as a tool to compare student data from state to state.