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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Trump Taps Charter School Backer DeVos for Education Post

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos to be the education secretary.


WASHINGTON (CN) - President-elect Donald Trump has tapped billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos to be the nation's next education secretary.

DeVos, who hails from Michigan, is known for her advocacy of frequently contested private school voucher programs.

A major donor to the Republican party, DeVos was not considered a loyalist to Trump, once calling him a GOP "interloper" in an interview with the Washington Examiner.

It that respect, she shares a something with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who the president-elect nominated to be ambassador to the UN Wednesday morning.

The two are also the first women Trump has nominated to serve in his administration.

The DeVos family has been active in Republican politics for decades, especially as donors to GOP candidates and the Republican Party.

This past election cycle, DeVos donated funds to early Republican primary contenders Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush before fully backing Sen. Marco Rubio.

She currently leads the advocacy group, American Federation for Children, and sits on the board of the Jeb Bush-led Foundation for Excellence in Education.

A statement released by the Trump transition office also notes that DeVos chairs a variety of "charitable and civic boards" including the Mars Hill Bible Church, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

She and her husband Dick, an heir to the Amway fortune and a former president of the company, gave $22.5 million to the Kennedy Center in 2010, at the time the largest private donation in the center's history.

"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 said.

DeVos said in her own statement, "The status quo in education is not acceptable."

Frank Cannon, president of the American Principles Project which openly opposes Common Core, was unable to be reached by phone or email Wednesday afternoon but his organization released a statement anticipating the pick early Wednesday morning.

"From the very beginning of his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump promised an end to the failed Common Core standards," Cannon wrote. "He repeatedly assured parents across the heartland that he intended to return power over education to local schools."

In his estimation, this, Cannon said, made it all the more perplexing when he heard reports of the Trump's transition team consideration of DeVos who he described as a "establishment, pro-Common Core Secretary of Education" that wouldn't "qualify as 'draining the swamp'."

Referencing the failed presidential primary runner and former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, Cannon added that he thought Betsy DeVos would have been be a "very Jeb-like pick" given her similar "apologist" views on Common Core.

But reached Wednesday afternoon, Jon Schweppe, communications director at the American Principles Project, adopted a more conciliatory tone.

“For now, we’re in the wait and see period. We’ve heard some talk that DeVos may do a turn-around on her commitment to Common Core and we’re hopeful,” Schweppe said.

Categories / Education, Government, Politics

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