Vice President Mike Pence stepped into an historic vote Tuesday on whether or not to confirm billionaire school choice activist Betsy Devos to the president’s cabinet as Secretary of Education. Every Senate Democrat, and two Republicans, voted against her nomination, citing her lack of education credentials and her support of school choice programs that “elevate for-profit schools with no consideration of the severe harm done to traditional public schools.” Devos has a long history of supporting market-based solutions for the abysmal state of education in many areas of the US; calling the current system “a closed industry, a closed market … a monopoly, a dead end.” She has championed the idea of school vouchers; a program which would allow families to use education money already attached to their students in order to attend (or at least compete for a spot in) the school of their choice — including private schools.
Secretary Devos is the daughter-in-law of billionaire Amway founder Richard Devos and the actual daughter of the late billionaire industrialist Edgar Prince. Her family has been extraordinarily successful, being one of the wealthiest in both the state of Michigan and the United States overall. The Secretary has worked in, and been a principle leader with, many different educational reform organizations (including the Alliance for School Choice, America’s largest advocate for school voucher programs) that have consistently pursued market-based solutions pertaining to America’s educational doldrums for more than 20 years. Characterizing her as having “no knowledge or credentials” relating to education seems petty; the vitriolic last gasp of a fraudulent, gatekeeping elitism facilitated by the very people who are responsible for steering the US education system off a cliff in the first place (i.e. “you don’t have the credentials that WE say are right for the job”).
What do you think? Will Secretary Devos deliver on her market-based rhetoric? Can increased school choice and the addition of increased levels of freedom to individuals and the states facilitate the change America’s educational system desperately needs? Watch Mike Pence break the tie for the first time ever in a Senate confirmation vote and then let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.