BETSY DeVOS HAS NEVER TAUGHT IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL, or administered one, or sent her children to one. She is a graduate of Holland Christian High, a private school in her hometown in Michigan, a school whose mission is to “equip minds and nurture hearts to transform the world for Jesus Christ.” But she was a natural choice, in Donald Trump’s world of wealth and privilege, to head a department that has a role in overseeing the schooling of more than fifty million American children.
Betsy DeVos and her family contributed millions of dollars to the campaigns of Republican candidates. On Feb. 7, 2017, she was confirmed as Secretary of Education in the new Trump administration by a narrow 51-50 margin, with the tie-breaking vote being cast by Vice President Mike Pence. All of the votes approving DeVos were cast by Republican senators, suggesting that she had essentially paid for her position via campaign contributions. Charts circulated online allegedly documented the amounts DeVos had contributed to various senators.
In the 2016 cycle alone, the family had given at least $10 million as of late October to a host of GOP candidates and committees. Much of that — $4.4 million — went to super PACs: those supporting the White House bids of Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and businesswoman Carly Fiorina. Also the Koch brothers-backed Freedom Partners Action Fund and the super PAC started by Republican strategist Karl Rove, American Crossroads. These two groups helped support numerous Republicans in tight House and Senate races.
If Democrats had controlled the Senate, DeVos obviously would not have been confirmed.
DeVos herself said: “I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party. Occasionally a wayward reporter will try to make the charge that we are giving this money to get something in return, or that we must be purchasing influence in some way.” Ya think?
In my own opinion, oodles of money never made Betsy any smarter or more ethical or qualified for public office—just as in the case of Donald.
Just how might Betsy DeVos seek to transform the educational landscape in the U.S.? pondered Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker magazine back on Dec. 14, 1917. We’re been finding that out.
And as near as I can tell, her main mission is to assault public education for the masses and turn it all into accommodation of the wealthy—charter schools, for-profit colleges. The latter is mindful of Donald’s phony Trump University, eventually verified in court as little more than a promotion of the Trump name, offering nothing in the way of education.
Trump University was, on the face of it, a fraud because it used criminal deception intended to result in financial and personal gain—about as clear-cut as fraud comes. Trump University wasn’t a university. It hasn’t been that long (April of last year) since a federal judge finalized the $25 million settlement between Donald and students of his shuttered “university,” (The settlement order came from U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel — the same Indiana-born judge Trump called biased because of his "Mexican heritage.”)
SO HERE COMES TRUMP’S REVENGE. On June 30, the New York Times reported, “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos officially repealed an Obama-era regulation that sought to crack down on for-profit colleges and universities that produced graduates with no meaningful job prospects and mountains of student debt they could not hope to repay. The so-called gainful employment rule was issued by the Obama administration in 2014, right before huge for-profit chains collapsed, leaving students stranded and with worthless degrees . . .
“In her first two years in office, DeVos has delayed critical parts of the rule, and last year, she sought to repeal it entirely, siding with for-profit industry leaders and congressional conservatives.”
A bottom line of the education department’s recision of the rule is that it thus re-instates federal aid for schools that promise to provide students with specific career skills but fail to prepare them for the job market, leaving taxpayers on the hook to pay back their loans—removing the reins on the shoddy for-profit college industry.
Repealing the Obama rule, is slated to take effect in July 2020. Estimated be $6.2 billion over 10 years—including federal grants and loans for students attending schools that would have been cut off under the Obama rule.
Meanwhile, for background, read “Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools,” on which I drew for this blog, at https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/betsy-devos-and-the-plan-to-break-public-schools