5 things to know about Trump's Education Secretary pick: Betsy DeVos

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen education reformer Betsy DeVos to become U.S. Secretary of Education.

Trump said DeVos is "a brilliant and passionate education advocate" who will help him "reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families."

Here are five things to know about DeVos:

She supports charter schools, private school vouchers and other “school choice” proposals.

DeVos, 58, is mostly known as a champion of school choice. In a 2013 interview with the Philanthropy Roundtable, she said, “I’m most focused on educational choice. But, thinking more broadly, what we are trying to do is tear down the mindset that assigns students to a school based solely on the ZIP Code of their family’s home. We advocate instead for as much freedom as possible.”

Her organization, the American Federation for Children, is the 501(c)(4) arm of the 501(c)(3) non-profit group the Alliance for School Choice.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a bitter political rival of Trump, praised DeVos' appointment on Wednesday, saying she is "an outstanding pick for Secretary of Education ... She has a long and distinguished history championing the right of all parents to choose schools that best ensure their children’s success. Her allegiance is to families, particularly those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder, not to an outdated public education model that has failed them from one generation to the next."

She drives teachers' unions crazy.

The American Federation for Children (AFC) sounds a lot like the American Federation of Teachers. But it is not a children's union. In fact, the organization, created by DeVos in 2010 and based in Washington, D.C., drives unions crazy.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Wednesday called DeVos' pick "the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education." Weingarten added, “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America. DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools. The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation."

She is married to the son of one of the founders of Amway.

DeVos’ father-in-law is Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, whose worth is estimated at $5.1 billion, according to Forbes.

She co-founded a Michigan charter school that specializes in aviation.

DeVos and her husband, Richard M. DeVos Jr., are co-founders of a Michigan charter school built around “their passion for both education and aviation. West Michigan Aviation Academy opened its doors in 2010. It is located on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich.

DeVos' husband's family owns the Orlando Magic basketball team; he ran for governor of Michigan in 2006.

Richard DeVos' family bought the franchise in 1991, and DeVos was, for a short time, the team's president. A former member of the Michigan State Board of Education, Mr. DeVos was the Republican nominee for Michigan governor in 2006, running against Democratic incumbent Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

During the election, Granholm claimed that under DeVos’ leadership, Amway cut 1,400 jobs in Michigan and shipped them to China. DeVos said Amway had expanded operations to sell products in China, which required them by law to open a Chinese factory.

DeVos lost to Granholm by 14 points.

USA TODAY


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