Trump's nominee for secretary of education is Betsy DeVos, a billionaire heiress who has been a staunch advocate for private charter schools, online schools and taxpayer funded vouchers for other private and religious schools of choice ― primarily Christian schools in order to "advance God's Kingdom."

DeVos's Senate confirmation hearing held early January raised questions about her questionable financial integrity and lack of experience. Despite both Republican and Democrat parties' unease with the nominee's dodgy answers, as of January 31, the Senate committee vote neatly split along party lines 12-11, with "all 12 of the committee's Republicans voting to approve her."

Since the hearing, DeVos pressed three of her goals forward towards the improvement of the American K-12 education system.

1. She will continue to advocate voucher programs, but at what cost?

A voucher program "allows parents to use public funds to pay for some or all of their child’s private school tuition," and it is usually established and distributed by state governments. While they sound like golden eggs of opportunity falling into our lap, voucher programs are often criticized for sacrificing the goose that laid the golden eggs because they drain resources from public schools to fund private institutions.

DeVos has promoted this program on a state-by-state basis for years, like in 2000, when she and her husband "formed a political action committee to support pro-voucher candidates nationally" a successful play to showcase support for equal opportunity, but unfortunately, that is when the stage curtains are drawn. Since 1993, DeVos and her husband flexed their monetary influence to "protect charters from additional regulation." Just this past year when Michigan lawmakers debated oversight measures for Detroit charter schools, "members of the DeVos family poured $1.45 million into legislators’ campaign coffers — an average of $25,000 a day for seven weeks. Oversight was not included in the final legislation."

The DeVos family's blatant coercion is why around 80 percent of Michigan charter schools are controlled and run by for-profit private companies. Of these charter schools, 52 percent have not significantly improved in reading scores compared to the scores of traditional public school.

And when it comes to math, Standford's 2013 Charter School Performance in Michigan report notes, "about 84 percent of charters have achievement results below the 50th percentile of the state... More than half of Michigan charters have positive growth and achievement below the 50th percentile in the state..."

2. She will not hold all schools (public, private or charter) to the same standards of accountability.

When there is a 51 percent national average of low-income students attending public schools, it is imperative that all schools be held to same standard of accountability across the board to insure equal standards education of a practical quality to everyone.

But when DeVos was asked if she would insure the equal standard of accountability as secretary of education, her answer was no.

Below is the Washington Post transcript of that questioning, and here is a clip of that senate committee exchange.

Kaine: “If confirmed will you insist upon equal accountability in any K-12 school or educational program that receives taxpayer funding whether public, public charter or private?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Equal accountability?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Is that a yes or a no?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Do you not want to answer my question?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Let me ask you this. I think all schools that receive taxpayer funding should be equally accountable. Do you agree?”
DeVos: “Well they don’t, they are not today.”
Kaine: “Well, I think they should. Do you agree with me?
DeVos: “Well no . . . ”
Kaine, interrupting her, said: “You don’t agree with me.”











And he moved on to another topic.

For the secretary of education nominee to not understand that equal accountability standards across all schools is a federal standard that we the American people pay for, expect and deserve is astonishing. Another blow came when that DeVos stated that taxpayer and federal funded schools meeting Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements is "a matter best left to the states" despite the fact it's an already enforced federal law protecting the educational rights of disabled kids.

So when she was asked her views regarding school assessments measuring proficiency or measuring growth, at that point it was not longer surprising to find that DeVos did not know the difference between proficiency and growth.

3. She may "revise" Common Core standards.

What is a surprise is that DeVos has a slightly different take Common Core standards than Trump. What he calls as a disaster, she labels as "a federalized boondoggle."


And that may be all she ever says about it. Although they can't scrap the Common Core, DeVos and Trump's transition team may revise some here and there and then stick a brand new label on it for no apparent reason other than to gather public support (and possibly for self satisfaction — bonus points if it uses Trump's name).

It is not clear how DeVos expects to take this role on when many argue she is entirely unqualified, but there's not much question as to why she was nominated to begin with. After all, the DeVos family donated nearly $200 million to the Republican party, with Betsy and her husband Dick personally donating $47 million since 2000. So it's understandable why DeVos said, "We expect a return on our investment."

Congratulations, DeVos. Looks like you got it.