Michigan Common Core Supporters Praise Trump’s Education Chief Pick Betsy DeVos

President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos shake hands at Trump National Golf Club Bedmi
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Michigan supporters of the Common Core standards are praising President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head up the U.S. Department of Education.

Common Core backer Gov. Rick Snyder applauded Trump’s choice of former GOP party chair in his state of Michigan, Betsy DeVos.

“Betsy’s appointment will mean great things for Michigan and for children around the nation as she takes her no-nonsense commitment to empowering parents to the highest levels in Washington,” Snyder said, reports the Detroit News.

In 2013, Snyder denied the Common Core originated with the federal government, though states were coerced into adopting the standards/testing package through a competitive grant program that appeared in President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill.

Snyder said Common Core is a “good thing” and that his state should “stand up for it,” reported NBC25 News. He added the goal of Common Core is setting higher standards and blamed opposition to it on “politics.”

Similarly, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce president Sandy Baruah said, “It’s good to have someone from Michigan in this critical role. We believe she will be an advocate for high academic standards and accountability.”

Business and industry groups such as the Chamber of Commerce have been ardent backers of Common Core. The Detroit Regional Chamber’s statement on Common Core says:

As business leaders, educators, advocates, and parents we understand that in order for students to compete in a global economy, Michigan needs consistent standards that will provide appropriate benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live. Michigan Common Core Standards are grounded in evidence, benchmarked against peers, and focused on ensuring that students graduate career and college ready.

Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, and co-chair of Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, said she is grateful DeVos is a supporter of Common Core, reports the Detroit News.

“We have to focus on setting consistent standards so every child in our country, whether rural or suburban, will be able to compete nationally,” Allen said.

On what appeared to be a new website, however, DeVos, who has been known mostly in Michigan, denied that she supports the federally incentivized Common Core state standards. Similar to national figures such as former Gov. Mike Huckabee, DeVos says Common Core “got turned into a federalized boondoggle.”

DeVos stated:

Certainly. I am not a supporter—period.

I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When Governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.

Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.

However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.

“That’s an education establishment euphemism for Common Core,” writes The Federalist’s Joy Pullmann at Conservative Review, however. “National standards are what Common Core was designed to be. Pursuing them is how we got Common Core.”

In addition, Huckabee became known for recommending that the Common Core standards simply be “rebranded” with a different name since the reform’s name had grown so politically “toxic.”

Indiana’s Gov. Pence – now the Vice President-elect – drew the ire of parents in his state when he turned around and approved a “rebrand” of Common Core soon after achieving a repeal of the standards.

On Friday, in response to DeVos’ statement that she was not a supporter of Common Core, Karen Braun posted at Stop Common Core in Michigan that “It was a huge surprise” to the parent activists on their team “and MANY in the grassroots to read her claim that she was AGAINST Common Core.”

“At Stop Common Core in Michigan we have been working hard to repeal and replace common core in Michigan for many years,” Braun writes. “DeVos has never contacted us to ask how she may assist us in our efforts to stop common core.”

DeVos serves as a board member of Common Core champion Jeb Bush’s foundation. Bush also praised Trump’s decision to nominate her for the top education official in the country.

“I cannot think of a more effective and passionate change agent to press for a new education vision, one in which students, rather than adults and bureaucracies, become the priority in our nation’s classrooms,” he said.

Trump vowed to eliminate Common Core while on the campaign trail, referring to it as a “disaster.” He also said he would work to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education.

Trump transition team spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement following the announcement of DeVos’ nomination, “The President-elect has been consistent and very clear in his opposition to Common Core. Anybody joining the Administration is signing on to the President-elect’s platform and vision for moving America forward.”


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