Betsy DeVos, picked to serve as Trump’s Secretary of Education, will face a tough Senate confirmation hearing on January 17th. She is not a household name (yet), but DeVos will shape the nation’s education policy for the next four years.
Here’s what every young American should know about Betsy DeVos ahead of her confirmation hearing:
Her number one issue is school choice. DeVos and her husband, Richard, fought to legalize charter schools and voucher programs in their home state of Michigan. They have quite the war chest to fund the fight. They are billionaires – Betsy inherited an auto parts company while Richard is the co-founder of Amway, the multi-level marketing giant.
DeVos will be charged with implementing Trump’s $20 billion plan to fund voucher programs at the state level. She has occasionally backed candidates who supported Common Core. However, with this new job on the line, she has affirmed her opposition to the national education standards that many find confusing and impractical for students.
Though she has never taught a class, DeVos has deep roots in the politics of education. She served as chair of the Michigan GOP in the 1990s, and later as chair of the Board of Directors of the American Federation for Children. Much like her future boss, she has experience not in government, but in business and philanthropy. Richard DeVos spent $35 million to run for governor in Michigan. He lost by 14 points.
DeVos has had little to no involvement in higher education, so her positions on college issues are murky. But this is a businesswoman we’re talking about. It is likely that she will do with student loans what she tried to do with school funding in Michigan: expand choices, and privatize more of the current bureaucracy. Student Loan Hero predicts “it is likely that she would support the privatization of student loans.” Something that President-elect Trump has publicly endorsed as well.
The DeVos family are devout Christians. Betsy is part of a sect that follows Calvinist doctrine and even attended a small Calvinist college.
Trump was not DeVos’ first choice for a GOP candidate – she donated to Bush, Rubio, and Fiorina in the primaries. DeVos may not have been Trump’s first choice for Education Secretary – he also met with Michelle Rhee, former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor.
Democratic Senators are likely to grill DeVos on her lack of experience, her history of lobbying, and her support for school choice. The Senate won’t rubber-stamp her. Nonetheless, this election cycle proves that inexperience is no barrier to public office, and that the public is beginning to trust the image of the “blue collar billionaire.”