Trump's New Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos a Strong Supporter of Homeschooling
UPDATE: After much controversy over Common Core Betsy DeVos announced she does not support it. A statement is available here on her website. If you are a homeschooler from Michigan and would be interested in writing an op-ed about DeVos, please contact us.
BREAKING: President-elect Donald Trump has named Betsy DeVos as his nominee for education secretary. She is a conservative activist and billionaire philanthropist who has backed and encouraged private school voucher programs nationwide. DeVos is chair of the American Federation for Children (AFC). Based in Washington, D.C., the AFC is a single-issue organization devoted to expanding school of choice options across the country. Her father-in-law is a co-founder of Amway.
Her nomination is expected to face strong opposition from public school advocates, who oppose her efforts to funnel taxpayer dollars from public to private and religious schools.
"DeVos, 58, is seen as a national leader in the school choice movement, which she has called an attempt to “empower” parents to find good schools for their children, whether they be traditional public schools in other neighborhoods, charter schools, virtual schools or private institutions." [source]
Trump said, “Under her leadership, we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”
Trump's campaign stance on education: "A lot of people believe the Department of Education should just be eliminated. Get rid of it. If we don't eliminate it completely, we certainly need to cut its power and reach." - from his book, "Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America."
“The status quo in education is not acceptable,” DeVos said. “Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”
DeVos on Home Education
As a strong supporter of school choice, it is correct to assume DeVos supports traditional homeschooling. DeVos was interviewed for the Spring 2013 issue of Philanthropy magazine. This is what she said about homeschooling:
MRS. DEVOS: Homeschooling represents another perfectly valid educational option. We’ve seen more and more people opt for homeschooling, including in urban areas. What you’re seeing is parents who are fed up with their lack of power to do anything about where their kids are assigned to go to school. To the extent that homeschooling puts parents back in charge of their kids’ education, more power to them.
PHILANTHROPY: And charter schools?
MRS. DEVOS: Charter schools are another choice—a very valid choice. As we work to help provide parents with more educational choices, it is always with the assumption that charter schools are part of the equation. We think of the educational choice movement as involving many parts: vouchers and tax credits, certainly, but also virtual schools, magnet schools, homeschooling, and charter schools. Source: Philanthropy Magazine
In September 2016, the current administration's Education Secretary, John King, Jr., said that "students who are homeschooled are not getting kind of the rapid instructional experience they would get in school—unless parents are very intentional about it." [source]
What does this nomination tell us?
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It seems that Trump intends to go through with his sweeping voucher plan. His plan is exactly what DeVos has "zealously worked" to make happen on a state-by-state basis for decades.
School oversight might not be the education department’s top concern.
Updated: Before DeVos clarified her stance on Common Core it was up in the air as a potentially iffy issue due to her affiliations and donations to pro-Common Core organizations. Her past ties suggest that she supports the effort to raise and standardize expectations of what students should learn in each grade. [source] Nevertheless, she announced, very clearly, that she opposes Common Core, period.
Update: Mixed media responses
West Michigan Politics reported that, like Donald Trump himself, the DeVos family has donated to the Clinton Foundation: The Doug and Maria DeVos Family Foundation donated between $50,000-$100,000.
Buzzfeed News reports that: DeVos is in most ways a conventional choice for the position: a longtime advocate of alternatives to the public school system, with close ties to many on Capitol Hill, she is closely aligned to Republican education officials like Sen. Lamar Alexander and serves on the board of Jeb Bush’s education foundation. [source]
Frank Cannon, president of American Principles Project, also released the following statement: It is puzzling, then, to see reports that the Trump transition team is considering an establishment, pro-Common Core Secretary of Education – this would not qualify as ‘draining the swamp’ – and it seems to fly in the face of what Trump has stated on education policy up to this point.
In March, she told the Washington Examiner, I don't think Donald Trump represents the Republican Party. I continue to be very optimistic that as we get further along into the process, the more voters know about him, and the more informed they are, the more they're going to continue to break away.
Update #2: Clarification on Common Core
After much controversy, DeVos has made it very clear that she opposes Common Core. This is contrary to her historical record of voicing support for Common Core State Standards. For further reading, see The Detroit News article.
Do actions speak louder than words? According to PRWatch, the public elementary, middle, and high schools in DeVos's school district in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are highly ranked. Nevertheless, she never sent any of her children to a public school. Instead, DeVos said that her two daughters were homeschooled for a number of years.
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Maybe more research is needed on the authors part. Interview Karen Braun, homeschooling activist mom in MI and very knowledgeable on what she has done to our education system here along with her Common Core supporters. I dont trust homeschooling or public, private or charter schooling is safe with her.
I mean, a direct quote from her said she supported homeschooling. The article also says that her choice might mean Trump is wavering on his common core position. I think this article was just an announcement, not an in-depth study of what she did back in MI. But, fingers crossed it turns out as good as it can... Although I doubt this is a good pick.
Well... it doesn't really matter since she came out against it. She is under Mr. Donald J Trump now, so she won't be supporting CC anytime soon.
Vouchers are BAD news for homeschoolers; we should NOT want them! They always come with strings/regulations - just ask the private schools that have taken them in recent years. They are a means to ADD REGULATION to even more parents. What SHOULD happen instead is moving to get feds OUT of education, not entrenching them further.
Why can't vouchers be simply redeemable receipts for taxes paid in by homeowners that they can be assigned to a student or even a school of their choice?
Why must it come with government controls or mandates? To be truly effective at making "education" competitive, the possesser will "regulate" by choosing the school they deem worthy.
It isn't that vouchers are bad, it's how they are structured that matters.
I'm sure that I could write that structure so that citizens would be empowered to control education dollars and lift the educational benefits to students.
“Betsy DeVos would be a very Jeb-like pick. It is puzzling, then, to see reports that the Trump transition team is considering an establishment, pro-Common Core Secretary of Education — this would not qualify as ‘draining the swamp’ — and it seems to fly in the face of what Trump has stated on education policy up to this point,” Cannon said.
This is the best comment I have read all day:
Let's be realistic. The only reason ANY business or extremely wealthy person wants schools to be privatized has absolutely NOTHING to do with improving education for anyone. Any individuals involved already have enough money in their pockets to provide the most elite education possible for their own children. Good schools that meet the needs of ALL kids, including those with disabilities (and which can be literally lifesaving for some kids and families) are not even on the agenda of those seeking privatization.
What they see is all those millions of public dollars released from public oversight, from regulations, from ANYTHING that makes sure that public money serves the public good, and somewhere they can get their hands on it through whatever means necessary.
They don't want to be accountable to the public by having the money in public treasuries, and they don't want the schools their own businesses run to have any kind of public oversight, but you can trust that the minute that money is in the hands of "regular citizens" who can be coerced to part with it, they will find a way to make that happen.
At the expense of real kids and families.
Many of us may be privileged enough to homeschool our children and opt out of the public offerings, but the taxes we pay for school are not some fee to be able to dictate as if we were private customers.
Public schools serve a huge, huge, ENORMOUSLY HUGE public good, whether your child ever attends one or not. Vouchers and other means of privatizing public funds have devastating consequences on society as a whole. That money doesn't belong in places where there's no public oversight in how it's used.
Excuse me, but what parent wants a poor education for their children?
Do opponents of vouchers work for school systems or represent teacher's unions who only want higher pay and benefits? I say, that too is very likely. They want all that money to stay with them as well. They are a HUGE voting block, largely for Democrats. So, let's take the partisan blinders off and focus on what our goals should be, the best quality education for youth under 18.
How many billions of dollars are spent freely to buy automobiles every year? Do you want government to make those choices and spend your money and buy a car you don't care for? It's called competition and free-market choice. We do the same with every trip to the grocery.
Are mistakes made? Yes.
Are mistakes quickly corrected? Much more so than not, within our available choices.
If voucher regulations are written by its potential beneficiaries then we can expect a less than optimum outcome by being forced to give up choices.
Regardless of all the faux arguments, one thing is for sure, our government run system is broken and expensive!
What mechanism parents should have to fix it is the real debate.
I homeschool because I had to. The system fails special needs kids. We make enormous sacrifices in order to do this. My homeschool friends do as well. Almost every child in my homeschool group has special needs and the system failed them. Public schools are for one type of learner. If your child doesn't fit that type, you're screwed.
Total freedom of competition with the least government involvement possible will produce the best education results.
great comment, but do it with your own money. I'd prefer not to pay taxes that are able to be used to support private enterprises and schools where the public has no say. Stop all school taxes and give a real free market then. I can do a lot with the school taxes we pay for our homeschool.
The comments left on this article are a testiment to the failure of our public education system.
"Marco Rubio took almost $100,000 from Betsy Devos' family before confirming her today."
This is not good
Watch out... From the Progressives in Michigan:
"The ultimate goal here was to create a new “value school” model in the state, delivering schooling at a per-student cost of roughly $5000, over $2000 less than the average reimbursement provided by the state for each child enrolled in a district’s schools–with “edupreneurs” pocketing the balance. For Snyder and DeVos, the purpose of education is not to help develop a more informed and educated citizenry, or to help children to become more fully human by providing a comprehensive, high quality curriculum, including music, art, and physical education in addition to the rest of the disciplines. The purpose of education under Snyder and DeVos is to turn the state’s once excellent system of public schools into an educational WalMart, boasting “low, low prices” in place of quality instruction."
Well, it's nice to see Trump's promise to drain the swamp is going so well.
Oh, Betsy DeVos is also a member of the Council for National Policy along with Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. Can we see the direction this administration is going?
There is no swamp draining. There is no sense of the public good under the Trump regime. If you are comfortable and qualified to teach your kids at home and know that they are getting the same access to materials, technology and social classes (music, art, gym, etc.) I think that's just fine. However, for those of us who aren't or who can't for a variety of reasons, we should be able to rely on our traditional public schools for a quality education for our kids. If the system isn't working, then we should fix it from within. The concept of just throwing out an established foundation and beginning from scratch is irresponsible (like most of Trump's concepts.) Do not ever be fooled by this administration: It's ALL about the money and the power. DeVos and her ilk have never been too concerned with ethics (as demonstrated by their pyramid-scheme Amway) and has NO experience with public schools or their goals. Since they now have legislation in motion that will remove any protections and services for special ed or advanced learning students, nutritional standards, homeless education, safe schools (read NO DAMN GUNS IN SCHOOLS) and SO much more, we can be pretty sure than Bets will be making some big deposits into her off shore accounts soon.