Betsy DeVos, a long-time supporter of charter schools and voucher programs who most recently served as chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group, has been confirmed as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education after some contentious proceedings. Every Senate Democrat voted against her, as did two Republicans. Vice-President Mike Pence cast a historic vote to break the 50-50 tie and get DeVos across the finish line.
Liberals are riled up about the confirmation. The reason for their agitation, explained here by NPR, reveals what DeVos’ appointment could mean for the U.S. education system:
DeVos’ department may take a leaf from Arne Duncan’s book and set up a competitive grant program that encourages states to expand school choice. If so, we’ll likely be hearing more about the benefits of private, virtual, religious and for-profit schools.
The school reforms DeVos backed in Michigan have favored for-profit charter school operators. And her husband previously held financial stakes in the for-profit and online K12 Inc., whose numbers she (erroneously) cited in defending virtual schools in her written answers to the Senate.
The organization she chaired, the American Federation for Children, favors both vouchers and a device called “tax credit scholarships,” which allows companies to offset tax liability by funding students to attend private schools. In Florida, which the AFC has called out as a model program, 70 percent of these scholarships go to religiously affiliated schools.
If the left is upset about DeVos’ confirmation, it’s a good sign. “The times, they are a’changin’.” Finally.