President Donald Trump’s education secretary nominee is, out of all his cabinet picks, facing the most pressure from Democrats and the public alike.
Last week, hundreds of demonstrators marched in Betsy DeVos’ hometown of Holland, Michigan, to passionately protest her confirmation in the post.
Last month, hundreds from DeVos’ alma mater signed an open letter detailing exactly why she was “not qualified for the position.”
On Monday, Senate Democrats announced a 24-hour protest to slow down DeVos’ confirmation to the Cabinet and urged Americans to swamp Republican senators with call to block her from becoming the next education secretary.
Take a look at why so many people are opposed to Betsy DeVos’ appointment:
She Has Never Attended Or Worked At Public Schools. And Neither Have Her Children:
DeVos has no experience with government-run education and she herself attended Holland Christian High School in Michigan, a private school that charged $8,000 a year. She then got a political science and business degree from the private liberal arts Calvin College.
And although she raised four children in an area filled with good public school, her two daughters were home-schooled for years and her two sons attended Grand Rapids Christian High School, which charges $10,000 a year. This means that DeVos would be the first education secretary in America who neither attended a public school, nor sent her children to one.
She Has Lobbied For Failed Schemes, Her Education Experiment In Michigan Being One:
DeVos is a strong advocate for poor performing charter schools, many of which are unregulated, have no quality controls or funding, have failed miserably and shut down. These schools draw away much-needed funding away from public schools, leaving them worse off.
In fact, federal data shows Michigan, DeVos’ home state, where she has pushed chartered schools, has actually failed to keep up with other states in education standards and ended up near the bottom of the national standardized testing. The charter schools also scored worse than public schools and there is no effective system to improve them.
Her Brother Is Blackwater Founder:
Her brother is the infamous Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, the private military (read: mercenary) company whose contractors were responsible for the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007, among other things. According to the Intercept, Prince has been advising Trump from the shadows on defense and intelligence matters, including picking the departments’ candidates.
She Has Pushed For Anti-Gay Legislation:
During her confirmation hearing, DeVos was slammed by Sen. Al Franken for supporting the discredited practice of changing a person’s sexual identity through a series of “treatments.” Although she said she never believed in the practice, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, noted this core family's “long record of opposing LGBT equality.”
“Foundations run by her parents and her husband's parents have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Focus on the Family, a group that’s promoted damaging gay ‘conversion therapy' and called homosexuality ‘preventable and treatable,’” Weingarten noted.
“A foundation run by her husband's brother and sister-in-law donated $500,000 to the antigay National Organization for Marriage, and a foundation run by DeVos and her husband has donated more than $100,000 to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. DeVos's late father, Edgar Prince, helped found the Family Research Council; her mother, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, sits on the boards of the FRC and the Acton Institute, which sponsored a conference held by an antigay hate group.”
This is concerning for some people because as secretary of education, it places doubt on her ability to protect some of the most vulnerable students.
She Is An Advocate Of Guns In School:
When asked about guns in school — a hot topic given the tragic school shootings that have plagued the U.S. — DeVos replied it might be OK if they are used to kill potential grizzly bears in schools. When she was asked if she would back proposals upon which Trump campaigned to eliminated gun free zones, she added, “I will support what the president-elect does.”
As the secretary of education, DeVos will be in charge of a $70 billion budget and federal oversight of 98,000 public schools in America.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Mary Schwalm