Barbara Bush ‘Enthusiastically Endorsing Betsy DeVos’ as Next Education Chief

Bushes and Betsy DeVos Gettyimages

Former First Lady Barbara Bush says she is “enthusiastically endorsing Betsy DeVos to be our next secretary of education.”

In a column Friday at the Portland Press Herald, Bush cites “a real compassion for children and a proven record of championing reforms to improve literacy and learning” as reasons for her support of DeVos.

Bush, who is the founder of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, writes, “We need more leaders like Betsy DeVos who understand the stakes involved” with the high illiteracy rate in the United States.

She continues:

Betsy DeVos has helped pass reforms to drive gains in literacy. The Great Lakes Education Project she founded in Michigan was instrumental in passing a comprehensive reading law last year that provides extra tutoring to struggling students and other intervention strategies to ensure that kids are leaving third grade with the literacy skills they will need to succeed in later grades. Reading is truly the building block of a successful education, and Mrs. DeVos has fought hard to ensure that elected officials in her home state and across the nation are giving literacy its proper attention.

As Breitbart News has reported, while DeVos said, upon her nomination, that she is not a supporter of Common Core, she has funded and served on the board of the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), an organization that promotes school choice and is a supporter of Common Core.

“We appreciate the work of the State Senate in supporting the Common Core State Standards, which we believe will make our students more competitive in a global economy,” said Gary Naeyaert, executive director at GLEP, in October of 2013.

The former first lady continued, “I also believe Mrs. DeVos has the right priorities on important issues such as school choice, early childhood development, and accountability in education.”

Upon her nomination, DeVos also said, “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.”

“I have worked with Mrs. DeVos’ advocacy organizations for years and I know that her commitment to children runs deep,” writes Bush.

“She believes passionately that children should have access to high performing schools regardless of their race, income or zip code,” she adds. “That is why she has fought valiantly to give parents of at-risk children the right to send their kids to charter and private schools when the public school system is letting them down.”

“I know Betsy DeVos is the right woman to help usher in an era of education reforms that can drive significant improvement in student achievement,” Bush concludes.

Barbara Bush’s enthusiasm for DeVos is shared by her son, Jeb, the former Florida governor and former 2016 presidential candidate.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Jeb Bush, a strong champion for the Common Core standards, writes in a letter to leaders of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, “Betsy is a champion of families, not institutions. For her, local control of education decisions means local control. She trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child’s best interests, and she believes in providing every parent with the resources to pursue those decisions.”

“I’m confident that, as Secretary, Betsy will pursue every opportunity to improve all of our nation’s schools and empower states, districts and parents to maximize the number of high-quality learning opportunities available to our kids,” Jeb Bush states.

The former GOP candidate told the National Summit on Education Reform recently he is “so excited” about President-elect Trump’s “extraordinary choice with Betsy DeVos.”

Politico reported earlier this month that DeVos was serving as Jeb Bush’s “consolation prize” for his failure to secure the GOP nomination.

According to the report:

If DeVos is confirmed by the Senate as most expect, Bush could see his views on education — repeatedly ridiculed on the campaign trail by Donald Trump — given new life as she turns their shared vision into national policy.

For years, the former Florida governor and DeVos worked side-by-side to push “school choice” policies that steer taxpayer funding to charter and private schools — and which critics blame for undermining traditional public schools. They served together on the board of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, to which DeVos and her husband gave large contributions. The DeVoses also contributed to Bush’s presidential campaign.

At Townhall, American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins writes with a different view: that the choice of DeVos is “Jeb’s revenge.”

“How ironic…that Jeb’s vision of education may triumph in a Trump administration after all,” she says.

“Jeb Bush and his ideological compatriots, including DeVos, advance what could be called a ‘government-foundation cartel’ model of educational policy-making,” Robbins explains. “Private foundations funded by wealthy individuals (who themselves may be dilettantes with no real experience in education) contribute ideas, and frequently personnel, to the government to achieve their policy goals.”

Jeb Bush’s former Florida deputy education commissioner Hanna Skandera – the current secretary of education in New Mexico – is also reportedly being considered for a top post in the federal education department under DeVos.

DeVos’ confirmation hearing was postponed and is now set to begin on Tuesday, January 17.


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