Erik Prince's sister, Betsy DeVos, has just been tapped to
destroy head the Department of Education under the Trump regime.
DeVos is a long-standing advocate of school privatization and vouchers, hoping to remake education into the Amway pyramid model, where those schools most profitable are rewarded by raking those which are not. She was a primary booster for Michelle Rhee, and runs a private "charity" called the American Federation for Children, which advocates for voucher programs at the state level.
DeVos is also one of the funders of the Mackinac Center in Michigan, which collaborated with government officials in that state to break the teachers' unions there.
DeVos' husband, Richard, ran for governor in Michigan. Both of them have contributed millions to the right-wing network of think tanks and dark money organizations managed by the Koch organization. DeVos was a likely funder of a Rick Berman attack on AFT President Randi Weingarten in 2014, too.
NEA President Lily Eskelson Garcia issued a statement, saying in part:
Betsy DeVos has consistently worked against these values, and her efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers — which take away funding and local control from our public schools — to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense. These schemes do nothing to help our most-vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps. She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education. By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.
AFT President Randi Weingarten issued a statement, too:
“The president-elect, in his selection of Betsy DeVos, has chosen the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education.
“In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.
“DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools. The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation.
“We have an obligation to all children in America. That’s why we’ve fought to ensure that struggling schools get fixed, that we fight for kids to have the powerful learning, the social and emotional and wraparound services, and the great teachers they need. That’s why we fight for parents to have the voice they need and communities throughout the country to have the local decision-making for their schools and the investment they need, so we do everything we can to help all children have a great public education. What this pick means is far from ensuring that every child has the option of a great public education—the many who have it now will lose it. That’s been the experience of 25 years of privatizing: It helps very few, and many students now go to schools that have faced years of austerity and disinvestment.
“Betsy DeVos is everything Donald Trump said is wrong in America—an ultra-wealthy heiress who uses her money to game the system and push a special-interest agenda that is opposed by the majority of voters. Installing her in the Department of Education is the opposite of Trump’s promise to drain the swamp.”
This is a disaster for kids across this nation. It will ensure that only the wealthiest children get a good education, while robbing local school districts of funds needed for safe, healthy schools and equal education for all.