Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump’s pick for U.S. Secretary of Education, doubled down on her promise to localize education, offer more choice, and “end” the Common Core State Standards, joining her new-boss-to-be at a victory rally in her home state of Michigan Friday.
“I’m so excited and humbled to be nominated as secretary of education. Just between us, let me share this, it’s time to make education great again in this country. This means putting kids first every single day,” DeVos told the crowd. “This means expanding choices and options to give every child the opportunity for a good education regardless of their ZIP code or their family circumstances. This means letting states set their own high standards and finally putting an end to the federalized common core. "
Of course, anyone who has read the Every Student Succeeds Act, which prohibits the secretary of education from telling states which standards they can and can’t use, knows DeVos can’t legally stop states from using the common core if they want
Still, some anti-common core conservatives aren’t fans of DeVos’ nomination, because of her association with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a prominent supporter of the standards. (Until recently, DeVos sat on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Bush’s research and advocacy organization.)
And even though DeVos is likely to take the reins of the Education Department next year, it sounds like she’s skeptical that the agency can do much to help boost achievement.
“I trust parents and I believe in our children,” DeVos told the cheering crowd. “But it won’t be Washington, D.C., that unlocks that potential. It won’t be a giant bureaucracy or a federal department. Nope, the answer isn’t bigger government. The answer is local control, and it’s listening to parents, and it’s giving more choices.”
DeVos has been a school choice advocate for nearly 30 years—most prominently as chairwoman of the American Federation for Children—but hasn’t worked professionally in education. That resume has some teachers worried that she doesn’t have a commitment to public schools, or a clear idea of how they operate.
But DeVos told the crowd she has the background needed to fix K-12 education.
“I’ve been in education for 28 years, as an activist, a citizen volunteer, and an advocate for children,” she said. “I have the experience the passion and the know-how to make change happen.”
It also sounds like DeVos isn’t a fan of the media coverage her nomination has generated so far. There have been a rash of stories and opinion pieces about things like how her religious beliefs may inform her work at the Education Department and calling into question the impact of her procharter schools policies on schools in Michigan.
“There is a lot of false news out there,” she said. “All I ask for is an open mind and the opportunity to share my heart.”
After her brief remarks, Trump said he’s confident DeVos “can make great strides to fix our broken schools and broken country. ... It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch.”
Want more? You can watch DeVos’ remarks and the rally below. Trump’s introduction of DeVos starts around the 35 minute mark.
President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands with his pick for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Dec. 9.
Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Education Secretary, speaks during a rally on Dec. 9 in Grand Rapids, Mich.