Washington Week

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6 Things to Know About...Betsy DeVos

By Joan E. Greve
 
In a historically narrow vote, Betsy DeVos has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as President Donald Trump's education secretary. DeVos experienced tumultuous confirmation hearings, leading every Democratic senator and two Republican senators to vote against her confirmation and brining the vote count to 50-50. But Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote in her favor, the first ever such vote for a cabinet nominee. Learn more about the major Republican donor and new education secertary:
 

Betsy DeVos

1.    DeVos and her husband, Dick, are both major players in Michigan politics. She served as the state’s Republican Party chair, while he was the 2006 GOP gubernatorial nominee. Just before Michigan’s Republican primary, DeVos endorsed Marco Rubio and slammed Trump, predicting that he would not win the party’s nomination because voters would eventually see that he did not represent GOP values.

2.    She founded and chairs the American Federation for Children, which focuses on “breaking down barriers to educational choice.” They endorse private school vouchers and the development of charter school programs, both of which have received criticism from public education advocates. Organizations like the American Federation of Teachers argue that such programs redirect critical federal funds away from improving public schools.

3.    DeVos, like the president-elect, is a billionaire. She chairs the Windquest Group, which invests in technological and manufacturing endeavors, and her husband is heir to the Amway fortune.

4.    In another similarity to Trump, DeVos does not support Common Core State Standards, an issue which came under question immediately following the announcement of her selection. DeVos has worked with education organizations that endorse the Common Core testing to measure schools’ academic success, which Trump has described as “a total disaster.” When Trump supporters began to question DeVos’ stance on the matter, she took to her personal website to clarify that she is not a “supporter—period.”

5.    She is a major donor to the arts, even having served on the Board of Trustees to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in DC. She also assists the international art competition ArtPrize, founded by her son Rick.

6.    DeVos’ love of the arts has even taken her to Broadway—albeit briefly. She and her husband produced a musical entitled Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson, which closed after just three weeks. Playbill described McPherson, the founder of the Foursquare Church, as “the world's first media superstar evangelist whose passion for saving souls equaled her passion for making headlines.”


Updated: Feb. 7, 12:45 p.m.

Photo via CNN Newsource


See how Trump's administration is taking shape: 

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions
Chief strategist: Stephen Bannon
Chief of staff: Reince Priebus
National Security adviser: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
CIA director: Mike Pompeo
Agriculture secretary:
Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross
Defense secretary: Gen. James Mattis
Education secretary: Betsy DeVos
Energy secretary:
Health and Human Services secretary: Tom Price
Homeland Security secretary: Gen. John Kelly
Housing and Urban Development secretary: Ben Carson
Secretary of state:
Interior secretary:
Treasury secretary: Steven Mnuchin
Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao
Veteran Affairs secretary:
EPA administrator: Scott Pruitt