5 Things to Know About Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary

Nov 26, 2016

By Emily Deruy

President-Elect Donald Trump on Wednesday said he will nominate the Michigan philanthropist and prominent Republican donor Betsy DeVos to be U.S. Education Secretary. The announcement signals that big changes could be on the way for schools and students around the country. Here are five things to know:

1. DeVos will push for school choice.

DeVos has been a vocal supporter of school choice, which is something Trump backed on the campaign trail. DeVos, who heads up the pro-charter and pro-school-voucher nonprofit American Federation for Children, has said parents should have the ability to choose the best schools for their children, whether they are traditional public schools, charters, or private schools. Trump has proposed creating a $20 billion federal voucher program for families to use to send their kids to the school of their choice. But, as Education Week noted recently, making that program a reality could be difficult. It’s unclear exactly where the funding would come from, and even if Congress did manage to pass such a proposal, some states currently prohibit funds from going to schools with religious affiliations, which could complicate how those funds are used.

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6 comments on “5 Things to Know About Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary

  • EeK! This “school choice” lady, a true fanatic, now in charge of education, gave millions to Trump’s campaign and is a horror! She is a creationist! Trump must be stopped. Something legal but unprecedented must be done to stop him!!!

    Since most of the schools in the program are religious, government funding violates the 1st Amendment separation of church and state. The fact is that over 95 percent of all school vouchers go to religious schools. The Establishment clause of the 1st Amendment was put in specifically by the framers to avoid the abuses that inevitably come about in state-sponsored religious education. Centuries of religious wars in Europe plus the Middle Eastern wahabism serve as painful examples of religious dogma in schools. Religious ideas are invariably based on opinion & centuries-old teaching rather than scientific proof. Thus, they don’t belong in the classroom, but in the home. Once government starts funding religious schools, it might start funding other religious institutions. Eventually, we have a religion-dominated society which can lead to discrimination (against gays, women, etc.) and take away individual freedoms (such as pornography, alcohol, etc.).

    Vouchers take funds away from already underfunded public schools. One of the biggest reasons public schools are failing is that they can’t keep up with the ever increasing cost of books, teachers, computers, security, etc. If we start subsidizing private schools, much-needed funds will be diverted from the public schools. This will only make bad schools worse.

    Private schools aren’t subject to as rigorous of oversight (other than from the market for schools); thus, they may not act responsibly. Public schools are subject to government oversight and more rules & regulation. Thus, tighter control is placed on the teaching methods and system of education. With little or no oversight, we don’t know how well private schools will perform. Only the marketplace can govern their actions; in other words, the only means of oversight is the ability of parents to take their children elsewhere for an eduction.

    Public schools must accept everyone regardless of disabilities, test scores, religion, or other characteristics; private schools can show favoritism or discrimination in selecting students. Private schools can establish any criteria they want for selecting or rejecting students. Thus, they can discriminate or make eligibility standards much more difficult for poorer students. Public schools on the other hand must accommodate all types of students regardless of what challenges they present. Government funds should be kept with the public schools that take on these challenges rather than private schools that may discriminate.


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  • @OP – some states currently prohibit funds from going to schools with religious affiliations, which could complicate how those funds are used.

    There is good reason for this! When silly UK politicians set up arragements to extend faith-schools, the abuses in the Trojan Horse Schools arose in next to no time!


    Two teachers who worked at the school at the centre of the “Trojan Horse” scandal have been banned from the classroom for life.

    A professional standards panel handed the men interim teaching bans in 2015.

    Mr Anwar and Mr Ahmed can apply to have their new bans set aside but only after minimum terms have elapsed.

    The men had denied a central allegation they had agreed with others to the inclusion of “an undue amount of religious influence in pupils’ education”.

    The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) said Mr Anwar would serve an indefinite ban for a minimum period of six years.

    Mr Ahmed will serve a ban with a three-year minimum term.

    Neither man is allowed to teach in any school, sixth form college, youth accommodation or children’s home in England. They have 28 days to appeal against their bans to the High Court.

    Subsequently Two teachers challenged their lifetime bans on the basis of a number of procedural and factual errors committed by the NCTL Lay Panel in arriving at their judgements. In October 2016 a High Court Judge threw out the NCTL judgements citing ‘serious procedural impropriety’. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Trojan_Horse#High_Court)

    The UK does have independent OFSTED inspections and national standards, although some types of faith-schools have some exemptions. Some have been found to be unregistered and operating illegally!

    Many faith-believers can see no wrong in their religions or in disregarding legal requirements, where specific activities are prohibited, or where specific educational standards are required.

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  • Extra Extra Read all about it….

    Before marrying Richard DeVos, Jr., heir to the multi-billion dollar Amway fortune, Betsy DeVos’ last name was Prince. Her brother is none other than Erik Prince, founder of the private paramilitary security firm Blackwater, Inc. (now known as Academi) That company made its billions of its own during the Bush 2 Administration costly and profitable little adventure in Iraq. DeVos is just one of a number of white billionaires Trump plans to appoint to key Cabinet positions – as well as yet another nominee that has little to no experience in the area that she would be overseeing.

    A native of Michigan, DeVos attended the private Holland Christian High School, then went on to get her degree in business administration and political science at private Calvin College in Grand Rapids. That college was named for 16th Century theologian John Calvin, who gave his name to the term “Calvinism” – a rigid form of Christianity that teaches the doctrine of “innate depravity” (in other words, humans are evil by nature). Calvinism has had a profound effect upon American society and culture – and it is the cornerstone of DeVos’ religious faith.

    Throughout her career, DeVos has been a forceful advocate for private school vouchers, essentially funneling taxpayer money away from public institutions and giving over to private, for-profit and religious schools.

    While Trump describes DeVos as “a brilliant and passionate education advocate” who will help to “reform the U.S. education system,” the fact is that she is not an educator, and has absolutely no experience teaching in a classroom. She is a businessperson. In keeping with her Calvinist upbringing and beliefs, she believes capitalist free-market neoliberal economics (in other words, handing public institutions over to private corporate interests) is the ultimate answer for everything. Although DeVos does not say as such, it is likely that the idea of taxpayers subsidizing right-wing conservative Christianity is very appealing as well.

    Rabbi Jack Moline, who heads the Interfaith Alliance, expresses grave concern about Trump’s choice for Education Secretary. He says, “raiding the public treasury to subsidize private businesses and religious organizations runs against the public trust and the Constitution…it suggests that he has little regard for our nation’s public schools or the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.”

    Of course, it won’t be the last time Trump spits on the Constitution in order to advance the corporatist agenda.

    There is some question about Trump’s choice of DeVos, as well as others he is gathering around his coming Administration. DeVos originally opposed Trump’s candidacy, telling the media this past March that “he does not represent the Republican Party.”

    It is possible that Trump’s VP, Mike Pence, had something to do with it. As governor of Indiana, Pence – himself a right-wing theocrat whose objective is to impose his brand of Christianity far and wide – successfully expanded the Hoosier State’s voucher program. Julie Ingersoll, who teaches Religious Studies at North Florida University, points out that it has been “a long-standing goal of the Religious Right to replace public education with Christian education…the long term strategy of how to change culture is through education.”

    KJ McElrath
    K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues.

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  • As Trump continues to pick people with no relevant experience of government (Trump is expected to pick ex-Goldman banker Steve Mnuchin for the Treasury – Mr Mnuchin, who was Mr Trump’s campaign finance chairman, and has no government experience,), those experts seem to keep popping up with warnings about gross incompetence and knee-jerk recklessness!


    The director of the CIA has warned US President-elect Donald Trump that ending the Iran nuclear deal would be “disastrous” and “the height of folly”.

    In the first interview by a CIA director with the British media, John Brennan outlined a number of areas where he said the new administration needed to act with “prudence and discipline” – these included the language used regarding terrorism, relations with Russia, the Iran nuclear deal and the way in which the CIA’s own covert capabilities were employed.

    Evidence suggests that Donald trump, does not do – “prudence and (self) discipline”!

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  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38157228

    Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin has vowed a tax overhaul not seen in decades to boost the US economy.

    Donald Trump’s new Treasury secretary promised “the most significant middle income tax cut since [Ronald] Reagan”.

    So it could be back to Reaganomics!

    The Wall Street veteran said in a CNBC interview that the new administration also planned to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%.

    Ah! The real tax cut rather than the token one!

    His appointment was announced alongside confirmation that Wilbur Ross will be the new Commerce Department head.

    Mr Mnuchin said: “We think by cutting corporate taxes we’ll create huge economic growth and we’ll have huge personal income… Taxes are way too complicated and people spend way too much time worrying about ways to get them lower.”

    He said the US could “absolutely” achieve a 3%-4% growth rate, one of Donald Trump’s key pledges.

    Mr Mnuchin, 53, whose father also worked at Goldman Sachs, is relatively unknown as a public figure, despite building a career as a successful private equity investor and Hollywood financier.

    He spent 17 years at the Wall Street bank before leaving in 2002 to set up an investment group which funded big movies such as “Avatar” and “Suicide Squad”.

    More controversially, he persuaded billionaires George Soros and John Paulson to help him buy the failed bank IndyMac in 2009, which had collapsed under a portfolio of high-risk mortgage loans.

    Rebranded as OneWest the bank grew to become one of California’s largest lenders.

    But it was also accused of driving homeowners into foreclosure to generate earnings – claims Mnuchin has denied.

    Like Mr Trump, he has also criticised the Dodd Frank act – brought in by the Obama administration to stabilise the banking system – saying it prevented banks lending to smaller businesses.

    Analysis: Michelle Fleury, New York business correspondent

    Will Donald Trump deliver on his promise of the biggest ‘tax revolution’ since Ronald Reagan? According to Steven Mnuchin, the man named for the role of treasury secretary, the answer is yes.

    He confirmed that Mr Trump will push to cut the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. The President-elect also wants to offer a tax holiday on overseas profits.

    This has long been a sore point for congressional leaders who have gone after multinationals that are, in their opinion, not paying their fair share.

    The most striking example is the technology giant Apple. Its chief executive Tim Cook has said in the past that he would “love to” repatriate Apple’s foreign profits but that he can’t because it would cost too much.

    US firms are supposed to pay federal taxes on their global profits, but the tax on money made overseas is only due when it’s brought back to the US.

    American companies have an estimated $2.6 trillion in profits sitting untaxed overseas. By lowering the corporate tax rate, Donald Trump wants to give companies an incentive to bring that money back to US shores where it can be put to use to boost growth and create jobs.

    But many economists argue that lowering the corporate tax rate to 25% would have the same effect without as much lost revenue.

    So there could be a short term boost to corporate investment or distributed profits, if these funds are repatriated, but that is also opening the doors to tax deficits and failures to fund public services in the longer term! – The US will get repatriated overseas profits and lose 20% of corporate tax at home!

    As they say! – “Taxes are way too complicated” (for Republican voters to worry about balancing books or planning future budgets)!

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