School Choice & Charters

Homeschooling Group Urges Senators to Confirm Betsy DeVos as Ed. Secretary

By Arianna Prothero — January 06, 2017 2 min read

The Home School Legal Defense Association, a conservative legal, advocacy, and lobbying group, sent a letter to U.S. senators this week, urging them to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary.

Although relatively unknown prior to her nomination, Betsy DeVos has been an influential school choice advocate and philanthropist in both her home state of Michigan and beyond. Her nomination quickly became controversial over both her school choice advocacy work and her lack of experience in traditional public schools. DeVos has never worked in public education, nor did she or her children attend public schools.

The DeVos family, whose patriarch, Richard DeVos Sr. made the family’s fortune by founding Amway, are long-time donors to the Republican party.

Betsy DeVos Supports Homeschooling

In its letter, HSLDA writes that “Among the many new and innovative ideas she brings to the Department of Education is a positive view of alternative forms of education, especially homeschooling. She acknowledges the constitutional right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children.”

In a 2013 interview with the group Philanthropy Roundtable, DeVos said that homeschooling was another part of the school choice movement, along with charter schools and vouchers.

“Homeschooling represents another perfectly valid educational option,” she told the Philanthropy Roundtable. “We’ve seen more and more people opt for homeschooling. ... To the extent that homeschooling puts parents back in charge of their kids’ education, more power to them.”

The HSLDA has previously lauded DeVos’ selection as education secretary not only for her support of home schooling, but also her skepticism of the Common Core State Standards, which the HSLDA is adamantly against. The organization fears the standards could eventually dictate what parents teach their children at home.

In a blog posted to its website shortly after DeVos’ nomination, HSLDA’s William Estrada, the group’s director of federal relations, also said that, ultimately, the HSLDA would like to see the Department of Education abolished. But if it’s going to exist, the group is pleased with the idea of having a homeschooling supporter at its helm.

DeVos’ confirmation hearing is scheduled for January 11.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.