President-elect Donald Trump made his choice for education secretary: Charter school advocate and Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos. As the case with many of Trump’s cabinet choices, the choice has been met with mixed reactions.
DeVos has been active in politics for nearly 40 years. She is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, served on the Republican National Committee, the Alliance for School Choice and the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Currently, DeVos is chairman of the American Federation for Children. AFC is a non-profit organization focusing on school choice and “advocating for school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs,” according to the federation’s site.
The choice has earned Trump praise from many Republicans, including those who have been opposed to his candidacy. Democrats don’t exactly feel the same. The Michigan Democratic Party called her a “dangerous and ill-advised pick” and an “anti-public education activist.” Their statement claims her life’s work is channeling “her family’s massive wealth toward destroying Michigan’s public education system.”
DeVos brings with her experience in charter schools and school vouchers, but many are questioning what this means for higher education. For starters, DeVos and her husband have a foundation that has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to public and private institutions within Michigan.
Chairman of the Senate on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), called her an excellent choice and said he looked forward to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act as well as clearing out the red tape within the sector.
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement that by nominating DeVos “Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.”