President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday picked Republican megadonor Betsy DeVos to be his Education secretary, a move that would put a strong supporter of school choice in charge of federal education policy.
“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a statement. “Under her leadership, we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”
“The status quo in education is not acceptable,” DeVos said in a statement. “Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”
The appointment of DeVos, 58, is subject to Senate confirmation, with consideration coming through the the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, himself a former Education secretary, called Devos “an excellent choice.” He said the confirmation process would move ahead quickly after the new Congress comes in Jan. 3.
“Betsy has worked for years to improve educational opportunities for all children. As secretary, she will be able to implement the new law fixing No Child Left Behind just as Congress wrote it, reversing the trend to a national school board, and restoring to states, governors, school boards, teachers, and parents, greater responsibility for improving education in their local communities,” Alexander said in a statement. “I also look forward to working with her on the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, giving us an opportunity to clear out the jungle of red tape that makes it more difficult for students to obtain financial aid and for administrators to manage America’s 6,000 colleges and universities.”
DeVos, a Michigan native, is chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, which advocates expanding school choice in K-12 education. She is married to Dick DeVos, the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. The couple donated $2.75 million to Republican candidates during the 2016 election cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Betsy DeVos, then a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, told The Associated Press in July that her family was not ruling out helping Trump financially but was eager to hear more about him on school choice and other issues. DeVos told the AP that she was concerned that many of Trump’s comments “are very off-putting and concerning.”
During the 2016 cycle, she donated $50,000 to the Conservative Solutions PAC, which supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president. DeVos also contributed to the Senate re-election bids of Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Tim Scott of South Carolina, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.