January 13, 2017
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves wrote the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/documents/2017/jan/13/reeves-devos-support-letter/">a letter this week, to put his support for Trump's Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos in writing. http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/documents/2017/jan/13/reeves-devos-support-letter/">In his Jan. 10 letter, Reeves wrote to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that DeVos represents a change that "our students so desperately need."
"As Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi, I know the importance of ensuring that every student has access to a truly revolutionary education, regardless of the zipcode in which they live or the income level of their parents," http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/documents/2017/jan/13/reeves-devos-support-letter/">Reeves writes. "Mrs. DeVos's continued commitment to ensuring that every student has access to a school that best serves their needs -regardless of the delivery model or the school governance structure-gives me utmost confidence in her nomination and subsequent position."
DeVos's confirmation hearing was pushed back and is now scheduled for next Tuesday, largely due to the fact that the Office of Government Ethics had not completed a review of "DeVos's financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest," https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/senate-postpones-confirmation-hearing-for-betsy-devos-trumps-education-pick/2017/01/09/be0ea7cc-d6e6-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.c1dc7e472fd2">the Washington Post reported.
DeVos, known for her work as the Republican Party Chairwoman in Michigan and for using her political and monetary influence to support the school-choice movement there, is a big advocate of voucher programs, charter schools and lobbying for those efforts, http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/stephen-henderson/2016/12/03/betsy-devos-education-donald-trump/94728574/">reporting from the Detroit Free Press over the years show.
One editor in Detroit writes in an op-ed that DeVos is not qualified for her role because she has very little practical education experience. Indeed, DeVos hold a bachelor's degree in business administration and political science from Calvin College and has worked as a businesswoman at the Windquest Group and a principle actor in how the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation spends its money. Her political experience is evident, and her involvement in Michigan's Republican Party and lobbying for school-choice reforms are well-documented.
"She is, in essence, a lobbyist — someone who has used her extraordinary wealth to influence the conversation about education reform, and to bend that conversation to her ideological convictions despite the dearth of evidence supporting them," http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/stephen-henderson/2016/12/03/betsy-devos-education-donald-trump/94728574/">Detroit Free Press editor Stephen Henderson writes. "For 20 years, the lobby her family bankrolls has propped up the billion-dollar charter school industry and insulated it from commonsense oversight, even as charter schools repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises to parents and children."
DeVos and her husband, a billionaire businessman, were influential in how Michigan's charter school law was written back in 1993, http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/us/2016/11/22/what-a-betsy-devos-appointment-would-tell-us-about-donald-trumps-education-plans/">Chalkbeat reports, and continues to be involved with ed policy decisions there.
"When Michigan lawmakers this year were considering a measure that would have added oversight for charter schools in Detroit, members of the DeVos family poured $1.45 million into legislators’ campaign coffers — an average of $25,000 a day for seven weeks. Oversight was not included in the final legislation," http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/us/2016/11/22/what-a-betsy-devos-appointment-would-tell-us-about-donald-trumps-education-plans/">a 2016 Chalkbeat report says.
Consequently, the majority of Michigan's charter schools are run by private companies, and the state government there has little oversight authority, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/us/for-detroits-children-more-school-choice-but-not-better-schools.html?_r=0">the New York Times reported. DeVos attended the Republican National Convention as an at-large delegate for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and did not throw her support behind Trump immediately, http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/13/betsy-devos-donald-trump/87055538/">the Detroit Free Press reports. But when offered the nomination, she accepted.
She used to serve as the chairman of the American Federation for Children, a national school-choice organization, and a recent post from the organization shows school-choice numbers attributed to the group and its affiliates' (like Empower Mississippi) success.
"As chairman of the American Federation for Children for over 7 years, DeVos has led the organization to immense success. DeVos’ final year in the role speaks volumes to and provides a glimpse into the successes that can be expected in her new journey," http://www.federationforchildren.org/betsy-devos-look-numbers/">AFC's website says.
There are over 1,200 school choice programs nationally, and almost 395,000 students received scholarships to enroll in private school in the last school year (2015-2016), http://www.federationforchildren.org/betsy-devos-look-numbers/">AFC reports.
The Senate is expected to have DeVos' confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017.