Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as secretary of education on a split 50-50 Senate vote. Vice president Mike Pence broke the tie, confirming DeVos.
This was the first time that the vice president ever has been needed to break a tie on a cabinet vote. This is telling. After the Senate put 7 Obama cabinet members in office on Obama’s first day as president in January 2009, Democrats are dragging their feet on Trump nominations and DeVos is only the latest example. DeVos has been confirmed on Trump’s 19th day in office.
This is typical. Democrats never abide by Washington decorum. Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions has not yet been confirmed in the third week of the Trump presidency.
DeVos comes from Michigan and is married to Richard DeVos who is an heir to the Amway fortune of health, beauty and home care products. Amway is worth $9.5 billion and is the 29th largest company in the US, according to Forbes.
Democrats were desperate to stop DeVos because she wants to reform our generally mediocre, often horrible and very frequently corrupt public education system that is controlled by hard-core teacher unions and government bureaucrats. These people run the schools for their own financial benefit and give mountains of cash to Democrat candidates only.
Public K-12 education in America today is a $600 billion a year enterprise with 3 million teachers earning an average $45 an hour. There are roughly 50 million students across the nation.
This means that public school teachers working just 35 weeks and 1,300 hours per year easily can earn $50,000 or more per year. Teachers in cities can earn up to $75,000 and more. These teachers then get full benefits, full pensions, early retirement and lifetime job security except for the most egregious violations. It is very difficult to fire a public school teacher even when many of them are clearly incompetent and could never find work in the private economy.
In short, there are some good teachers, but in general public education has become a dumping ground for low-skill, low-ambition workers who want to make a lot of money at an easy job.
Various surveys have shown American students placing anywhere from 17th to 35th in math and science compared to other nations despite the highest spending levels in the world at more than $12,000 per student.
And so you wonder: Why are our schools so bad when we spend so much money on them?
Answer: Because the teachers and their unions are over-paid, under-worked and have total power, and thus the system has become totally corrupt.
This is what DeVos is going to begin to address with a major effort to open tens of thousands of new charter schools across America to give students the chance to opt out of public schools with vouchers and other programs.
Charter schools and vouchers are very popular in poor black and hispanic neighborhoods. This is one reason that Democrats were so anxious to stop DeVos – because hers and Trump’s approach could end up peeling away crucial black and hispanic votes from the Democrats.
Now here is more about DeVos verbatim from The Daily Signal:
1. She does not support Common Core:
Upon accepting the position of education secretary, DeVos issued a statement clarifying that she is not a supporter of Common Core.
Trump’s disdain for the national standards was perhaps the most talked about education policy issue on the campaign trail, and DeVos’ opinion on the issue was previously unclear.
DeVos currently serves as head of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which was started by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who Trump criticized for defending the national standards.
In recent years, DeVos had been quiet on the issue of Common Core, but upon accepting the position in the Trump administration, she changed that, writing:
I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.
Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.
However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.
Above all, I believe every child, no matter their ZIP code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.
2. She strongly supports school vouchers.
DeVos believes that every child should have the opportunity for a “top notch education”, regardless of their family’s financial background.
For that reason, she and her husband advocated a ballot proposal in 2000 that would have amended the Michigan Constitution to create a school voucher program that allows taxpayer funds to follow students to private schools. After hitting a roadblock, she and her husband formed a political action committee to support voucher-friendly candidates on the national level.
According to Chalkbeat, “the group counted a 121-60 win-loss record.” Since then, she’s played a major role in expanding the number of school choice programs available to students across the country.
3. She also supports charter schools.
DeVos and her husband have been actively involved in promoting charter schools for over two decades, and helped to pass Michigan’s first charter school law in the state.
Charter schools are publicly funded and open to all students, but able to operate with more autonomy than traditional public schools.
There are currently 275 charter schools in Michigan, according to the American Federation for Children.
Although dealing with the inner workings of Congress will be new to DeVos, she’s well-familiar with the political system, having served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party.
Her husband, Dick DeVos, was elected to the State Board of Education in 1990 and ran for governor of Michigan in 2006, losing to Democrat Jennifer Granholm.
5. She supports homeschooling.
In a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Roundtable, DeVos voiced her support for homeschooling. She said:
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.
6. She funds a variety of nonprofits.
DeVos and her husband are founders of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, where they support “organizations and programs that focus on community, education, the arts, justice, and leadership.” She serves as chairman of the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice, according to Philanthropy Roundtable.
Some organizations the DeVos family has supported include the Foundation for Excellence in Education, ArtPrize, West Michigan Aviation Academy, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, American Enterprise Institute, Mars Hill Bible Church, and The Heritage Foundation, which is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.
7. She chose to send her children to private Christian schools.
Growing up, DeVos attended Holland Christian High School in Michigan, and graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and political science. She also chose to send her children to private Christian schools, according to Chalkbeat.
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