Five Things You Should Know About Betsy DeVos

Betsy_DeVos_2005_cropLast week, President-elect Trump announced his pick for Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos, the former chairperson of the Michigan Republican Party and a vocal proponent of privatizing education. A look at her family’s political and charitable giving reveals a lot about her beliefs and commitments in the area of education, characterized by hostility to civil rights and a penchant for privatization. Here are five things you should know about the conservative billionaire:

1. DeVos supports so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.”

The DeVos family has given over a million dollars to “crisis pregnancy centers,” or CPCs. These anti-abortion organizations deceive and shame people seeking abortions. Through misleading marketing practices, they target pregnant people – and particularly women of color – and then provide a heaping dose of stigma and misinformation rather than medical care in order to block patients’ access to abortion.

2. DeVos opposes LGBT rights.

DeVos and her husband poured millions into anti-LGBT efforts (notice a theme here?), including the campaign against marriage equality and an organization that supports “conversion therapy.” This history is especially concerning because, as Secretary, DeVos will oversee federal enforcement of students’ civil rights.

3. DeVos has contributed to organizations who favor rolling back Title IX protections for campus survivors.

DeVos’s family foundation has given at least $10,000 to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has fought the Obama administration’s efforts to enforce Title IX and protect student survivors of gender violence. That is troubling to say the least, particularly given Trump’s claims that he sexually assaulted women.

4. DeVos favors using public funds for private schools.

DeVos and her husband were the primary champions of a failed Michigan ballot initiative to siphon funds from public schools into private schools – including parochial schools– through a voucher system. Trump has proposed a similar federal initiative, and her selection suggests that a large-scale voucher program will be a priority for the next Administration.

5. DeVos opposes charter school regulation.

DeVos not only championed the expansion of the charter system in Michigan but opposed regulation and government oversight. The charter system she helped develop in Detroit is widely recognized as the greatest school reform failure in the country based on poor student performance. Without adequate monitoring and quality control, for-profit charters have preyed on poor students, enticing them with gift cards to enroll in woefully subpar programs. Just this year, Detroit charter students joined a lawsuit claiming Michigan officials denied their constitutional right to literacy.