President-elect Donald Trump selected Betsy DeVos to be his Education Secretary. Some on the right were cheering her selection due to her support for school choice, but others are skeptical that she will bring the change needed to reform the education system.
Here are five conservative objections to DeVos.
1. DeVos has supported Common Core in the past. DeVos now says she doesn't support Common Core, but the Stop Common Core organization in Michigan never received any support from DeVos. DeVos has also supported candidates that support Common Core and her husband lobbied against anti-Common Core legislation in Michigan. DeVos also said that she discussed "setting higher national standards" with Trump's transition team, which is actually code for Common Core.
"National standards are what Common Core was designed to be," wrote Conservative Review's Joy Pullman. "Pursuing them is how we got Common Core."
DeVos's reasoning for her sudden opposition to Common Core was because it became a "federalized boondoggle," but Michelle Malkin noted on Twitter it was obvious from the start that Common Core was a federal boondoggle. While she may claim to be opposed to Common Core, there is nothing in DeVos' record to back up her assertion.
2. DeVos lacks political experience. As The Atlantic''s Emily Deruy notes, most of DeVos' work in politics has been at the state level, including being state GOP chair.
"She will now have to, as Chalkbeat wrote, 'operate within a complicated web of interests and priorities, including with education officials in states that did not support Trump,'" writes Deruy. "Her ability to navigate Washington is largely untested."
This wouldn't necessarily be a big deal if DeVos was a strong, principled anti-establishment, anti-Common Core selection, but she hasn't proven herself to be that, at least not yet, and she's going to have to deal with a lot of entrenched bureaucrats in the department who will want to maintain the status quo.
3. DeVos seems to be an establishment Republican. The evidence for this includes:
- DeVos donated to Super PACs supporting Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the 2016 GOP primary.
- She opposed efforts to repeal affirmative action in 2003.
- DeVos was on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which is Bush's pro-Common Core nonprofit.
- DeVos has admitted to using money to buy influence.
- She is aligned with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who has pushed a bill that would further centralize power to the Education Secretary.
4. DeVos' family foundation donated to the Clinton Foundation. According to ABC News:
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation is listed on the Clinton Foundation website as a donor -- a group Trump lambasted on the campaign trail. The contribution was earmarked “exclusively for CGI activities such as memberships, sponsorships, and conference fees.”
All of which leads to this possible outcome:
5. DeVos might not change much as Education Secretary. She supports school choice, but given her record of being an establishment Republican and not knowing the intricacies of the bureaucracy, DeVos might not be able to make the necessary reforms as Education Secretary, or even downsize the department.
Perhaps DeVos will prove these objections wrong, but for now there is reason for conservatives to be at least somewhat skeptical of her ability to bring substantive change to the Department of Education.