Michigan Republican mega donor Betsy DeVos, whose husband’s family founded Amway, is reported to be on President-elect Donald Trump’s short list of candidates to head up the U.S. Department of Education.
But parent activists are suggesting Trump is getting the wrong advice from his transition team.
Writing at Townhall, Indiana activist and researcher Erin Tuttle and American Principles Project education fellow Jane Robbins assert Trump’s transition team “may be ignoring the concerns of the most populist movement American politics has seen since Reagan: the parents and teachers fighting Common Core.”
Citing many of the reported potential candidates’ associations with ardent Common Core supporter Jeb Bush, Tuttle and Robbins note:
DeVos has served on [Jeb Bush’s] foundation’s board of directors. Among these “experts” from Jebworld are alumni of Bush’s Chiefs for Change (Gerard Robinson and Tony Bennett) and former members of Bush’s gubernatorial education team (Hanna Skandera). All of these candidates predictably support progressive education in general and Common Core in particular. Indeed, Bennett was booted out of his position as Indiana State School Superintendent for that very reason. Why would Trump even consider someone coming out of the environment on which he heaped such scorn during the campaign?
According to a WMP analysis of Clinton Foundation records, the DeVos family donated between $60,000-$130,000.
The Doug and Maria DeVos Family Foundation donated between $50,000-$100,000.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation donated between $10,000-$25,000
Dave DeVos donated between $1,000-$5,000.
Bloomberg also reported in July of 2015 that former President Bill Clinton “often earned higher speech fees, especially abroad. Amway paid him $700,000 for a February 2013 speech in Japan.”
A report at the Detroit News in July states that DeVos, a former Michigan Republican Party chair, was an at-large delegate for pro-Common Core Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Kasich received a grade of “F” at The Pulse 2016 for his support of the controversial standards. The former presidential candidate referred to parent activists in his state fighting against the Core as a “runaway internet campaign.”
“Let’s just say that I will be a more than interested bystander at the convention,” DeVos said.
The Detroit News continued:
DeVos is attending the Republican National Convention as an at-large delegate for Ohio Gov. John Kasich while her wealthy and influential West Michigan family backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio during the primaries.
DeVos acknowledged she has some misgivings with Trump but did not elaborate on why she’s withholding her support for the party’s presumptive nominee.
Meanwhile, a Buzzfeed report states “Republican mega donor” Betsy DeVos has “declared herself an opponent of the Common Core education initiative.”
DeVos is in most ways a conventional choice for the position: a longtime advocate of alternatives to the public school system, with close ties to many on Capitol Hill, she is closely aligned to Republican education officials like Sen. Lamar Alexander and serves on the board of Jeb Bush’s education foundation. She has also proclaimed herself an opponent of the Common Core education initiative, which Trump often denounced at his rallies with promises of a “repeal,” though she initially supported the standards.
Shane Vander Hart, however, writes at Truth in American Education that Molly Hensley-Clancey’s report at Buzzfeed that DeVos is an opponent of Common Core is less than accurate.
“Yes she is very much part of the Republican education establishment, but where Hensley-Clancey got the idea that she proclaimed herself an opponent of the Common Core education initiative is beyond me,” Vander Hart writes. “Betsy DeVos through the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) and Michigan Freedom Fund tried to influence Michigan’s Republican primaries.”
Karen Braun who heads up Stop Common Core in Michigan wrote:
GLEP is a strong supporter of the Common Core and its continued implementation in Michigan. They are part of the Michigan Coalition for High Student Standards which opposes SB 826 to Repeal and Replace Common Core, science, social studies, and aligned assessments with pre-common core Massachusetts standards. Stop Common Core in Michigan believes there is a high correlation between candidates who accept the GLEP endorsement and their future votes on legislation.
GLEP claims NOT to have a litmus test on Common Core. This allows candidates to say they are against common core and still gain the endorsement of GLEP. But DeVos is a champion for “school choice” while at the same time continuing the implementation of common national standards. The DeVos definition of “school choice” is the freedom to choose which common core school will track your child from cradle-to-career (P20). All Michigan charters must use common national standards. That’s NOT true choice.
Like Bill Gates, Betsy DeVos has some money and has some things she’d like to see different. Like all good investors, DeVos likely expects a return on her investment. And if you don’t play the game under their rules and vote the way you want her to vote, you may find yourself challenged the next time you run for office.
“DeVos’ involvement with GLEP which supports Common Core and with the Foundation for Excellence in Education should make any denunciation of Common Core from DeVos’ lips suspect,” Vander Hart concludes.
Braun also tells Breitbart News because DeVos refused to support Trump at the Republican National Convention, she is skeptical of whether she would commit to Trump’s stated goal of removing the federal government from education.
“Disloyalty should not be rewarded with a cabinet post,” Braun asserts. “Her lobby group, GLEP, supports common core and P-20 competency based education or so called “school choice. I hope President-Elect Trump and the rest of the transition team think long and hard about this appointment.”
Frank Cannon, president of American Principles Project, also released the following statement:
From the very beginning of his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised an end to the failed Common Core standards. He repeatedly assured parents across the heartland that he intended to return power over education to local schools.
It is puzzling, then, to see reports that the Trump transition team is considering an establishment, pro-Common Core Secretary of Education – this would not qualify as ‘draining the swamp’ – and it seems to fly in the face of what Trump has stated on education policy up to this point.
President-elect Trump rightly slammed Governor Jeb Bush for his support of Common Core on the campaign trail. Betsy DeVos would be a very Jeb-like pick, and the idea that Trump would appoint a Common Core apologist as Secretary of Education seems unlikely. We remain hopeful that Trump will pick a Secretary of Education who will return control over education to parents and local school districts – someone like Bill Evers, Sandra Stotsky, or Larry Arnn – and not someone who will simply rebrand and repackage the failed Common Core standards that were so thoroughly rejected by voters in both the GOP primary and in the November election.
Similarly, Tuttle and Robbins conclude, “Conservatives in the anti-Common Core movement are beginning to fear that the transition team’s agenda has replaced Trump’s, and that the grassroots activists will once again be sold out to the education establishment.”