How did Betsy DeVos land her Department of Education position? This is a common question that has garnered a lot of attention in recent months, and rightly so. While many people are skeptical about the newly-minted education secretary, others are skeptical of the entire process. Here are some things to know about DeVos. Hopefully, this will make things clearer.
During her confirmation hearing, DeVos was a lightning rod for controversy. She was the subject of a 50-50 split in the Senate, and Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie to confirm her. Her confirmation hearing was also fraught with controversy, as she mentioned the possibility of grizzly bear attacks in schools. Even during the confirmation hearing, DeVos was criticised for reopening schools amid a COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused many to wonder how she got her job.
Among the other things that have roiled the department is DeVos’s personal and political ties. She’s a wealthy Republican Party donor and former chairwoman in Michigan. Her husband is a billionaire who founded Amway, and her brother Erik Prince is the founder of the controversial private security company Blackwater. She has a long history of political connections, but her credentials don’t necessarily make her a good choice for education.
Betsy DeVos’ background in education is unique. She is a conservative activist with deep roots in Christianity. She went to Calvin College, a Christian Reformed school in Michigan. DeVos’ stated mission as education secretary was to help the kingdom of God. The senators’ questioning of her education background also exposed her to the cartoonish misrepresentation that has plagued conservatives for years.
One of the most troubling aspects of her appointment is that her performance at the hearing before the Senate Committee was a self-inflicted wound. While she showed little understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, she stumbled on accountability. DeVos cited Wyoming grizzly bears as an example of the need for stricter gun control laws. Despite her plight, DeVos’ nomination was nonetheless a major blow to public education.
In addition to her plethora of actions, DeVos’ controversial cabinet nomination had many negative consequences. She axed Obama-era transgender protections, revised a rule allowing defrauded students to get loan forgiveness and attempted to merge all student loans under one servicing company. In addition to these, her appointment did little to reduce federal education funding or end Common Core standards.
In the meantime, DeVos’ nomination as Education Secretary sparked outrage among many civil rights groups and parents. While she supports the idea of nontraditional schooling, she has also promoted virtual and nontraditional schooling options. Although the campaign was unsuccessful, many schools began remotely and many students are now learning online. DeVos’ use of the bully pulpit during the election may have caused splits in the school reopening decision. While this may have caused the devastation of traditional public schools, it was also a catalyst for ratcheting up pressures in local districts.
DeVos isn’t the only controversial person on the Trump administration’s list. She has made a lot of donations to conservative causes. While her nomination is widely praised by conservative Republicans, she has faced a tough time getting a Republican vote to approve her budget. In the end, the vice-president, Mike Pence, cast the deciding vote.