Federal Relations


December 5, 2016

The president-elect has tapped Betsy DeVos for secretary of education. Here’s what she says about school choice and the Common Core.

3 Things You Should Know About
Trump’s Dept. of Ed. Pick

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations

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William Estrada, Esq. WILLIAM ESTRADA

On the day before Thanksgiving, President-elect Donald Trump announced that Betsy DeVos would be his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education.

The Senate will likely take up its constitutional role of “advice and consent” and decide whether to confirm DeVos sometime in January. But in the meantime—who is Betsy DeVos? Where does she stand on issues of concern to homeschooling families?

Here are three things you should know about Betsy DeVos:

  1. Betsy DeVos supports homeschooling. In a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Magazine, DeVos said:

    “Homeschooling represents another perfectly valid educational option. We’ve seen more and more people opt for homeschooling, including in urban areas. What you’re seeing is parents who are fed up with their lack of power to do anything about where their kids are assigned to go to school. To the extent that homeschooling puts parents back in charge of their kids’ education, more power to them.”

    At the end of the interview, she outlined her ultimate dream about education: “That all parents, regardless of their zip code, have had the opportunity to choose the best educational setting for their children. And that all students have had the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential.”

  2. Betsy DeVos has funded numerous organizations dedicated to limited government, school choice, and religious freedom. She is married to Dick DeVos, former president of Amway and former president of the Orlando Magic NBA franchise. The DeVos family have used their wealth to support organizations such as The Heritage Foundation (which led the fight against the Common Core State Standards Initiative), Alliance Defending Freedom (which fights for religious freedom), and many other limited-government, pro-Constitution organizations.

  3. Betsy DeVos opposes the Common Core State Standards Initiative. On her personal webpage, Betsy DeVos says this about the Common Core:

    “I am not a supporter—period. I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense. Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework. However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle. Above all, I believe every child, no matter their zip code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.”

Some commentators have expressed concerns about a few of the organizations she is associated with. She is currently a member of the board of Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), which supports the Common Core in Michigan. She is also on the board of Jeb Bush’s organization, Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), which led the push for the Common Core.

But does this mean that DeVos supports the Common Core? HSLDA doesn’t believe that is the case. We believe that Betsy DeVos’ powerful statement against the Common Core shows two things: her personal views on the subject, and the strength of the grassroots opposition to the Common Core.

It is HSLDA’s long-term goal that the Federal Department of Education be abolished and that states and local school districts decide education policy. In the meantime, it’s better that the U.S. Secretary of Education be favorable to homeschooling. DeVos will be a massive improvement over the current secretary of education, who recently criticized homeschooling.

Regardless of who serves as secretary of education, HSLDA will never stop standing up for homeschool freedom, opposing the Common Core, and working hard to return education decisions to where they belong: in the trust of parents and families.