President-elect Donald Trump never made education a central point of his campaign, but he did argue for school choice when asked about his plans for the Education Department. On Wednesday, Trump chose a leader for said department – a woman who has spent her career bringing privatization solutions to our failing public school system.
Calling her a “brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump named Betsy DeVos his Secretary of Education in an afternoon statement. DeVos is the second woman in a row named to the administration, following Nikki Haley for UN ambassador. She is also the second person selected who did not support Trump for president. DeVos, a prominent Republican donor, supported John Kasich in the primaries.
“I am honored to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again,” DeVos tweeted. “The status quo in ed is not acceptable.”
As the chair of the American Federation for Children, DeVos has spent years pushing for legislation aimed at expanding charter schools and voucher programs in her home state of Michigan. This, of course, makes her an enemy of the major teachers’ unions, who denounced DeVos in public statements.
“DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation.
Some conservatives were also dismayed by the choice due to DeVos’s history of supporting Common Core standards. In response, DeVos denied being a champion for the standards, which she said had become a “federal boondoggle.”
If Trump and his new education secretary are able to follow through on their plans, we could see a major revolution in the public school system throughout the country. DeVos’s commitment to school choice is beyond reproach, so this could be one of the most significant picks Trump has made to date.