Betsy DeVos, 58, is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, and wife of Orlando Magic owner Dick DeVos, whose father founded Amway.
Trump on Wednesday announced his intention to appoint DeVos after former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee stepped aside.
Aside from being a wife and wealthy donor to Republican campaigns, DeVos is perhaps best known as chairwoman of the American Federation for Children (AFC), a group that promotes charter schools, and pushes for what has become known as “school choice,” but is labeled by critics “privatization.”
DeVos calls this movement 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.
“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said Wednesday in a statement. “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.”
DeVos and her husband have been proponents of “school choice” in their home state of Michigan for more than a decade, according to the Detroit News:
“In 2000, Betsy and Dick DeVos funded an unsuccessful statewide ballot initiative to amend the state Constitution to allow tax dollars to be used for private school tuition through education vouchers. They have since advocated for school vouchers in other states.”
DeVos also worked with Jeb Bush’s efforts to support Common Core, the education standards which heat first endorsed and then flip-flopped to oppose during his failed bid for the White House. That connection got her blasted, along with Rhee and other potential appointees, by the right-wing religious conservative organization, the American Family Association, in a report in Breitbart earlier this week.
“Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core?” DeVos wrote on her website, apparently in response. “Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.”
Trump called Common Core a “disaster” and proposes making the current national standard curriculum “local.” The AFA’s stance on school choice does align with DeVos: “School choice is a must in order to have a thriving education system in communities across the country,” the group said in a statement.
There’s been no statement on whether DeVos will continue the current policy directing schools to allow transgender students to use bathroom and locker room facilities matching their gender identity.