Betsy DeVos

  • SOURCE:  Wikipedia, 2020-05-07  |  Tenure: U.S. Secretary of Education  |  Personal Life

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  • Elisabeth Dee DeVos (née Prince; born January 8, 1958) was the 11th United States Secretary of Education (starting in 2017), in the Trump administration. DeVos is known for her support for school choice, school voucher programs, and charter schools. She was Republican National Committeewoman for Michigan from 1992 to 1997 and served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000, with reelection to the post in 2003. She has advocated for the Detroit charter school system and she is a former member of the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She has served as chair of the Board of both the Alliance for School Choice and the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and headed the All Children Matter PAC.

    DeVos is married to former Amway CEO Dick DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA. Their father is Edgar Prince, founder of the Prince Corporation. In 2016, the family was listed by Forbes as the 88th-richest in America, with an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion.

    On November 23, 2016, then-President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would nominate DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education in his administration. On January 31, following strong opposition to the nomination from Democrats, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions approved her nomination on a party-line vote, sending her nomination to the Senate floor. On February 7, 2017, she was confirmed by the Senate by a 51-50 margin, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie in favor of her nomination. This was the first time in U.S. history that a Cabinet nominee's confirmation was decided by the Vice President's tiebreaking vote.

    Tenure: U.S. Secretary of Education

    DeVos has been a polarizing figure through out her tenure. In her first official appearance as Secretary on February 10, 2017, dozens of protesters showed up to prevent her appearance. The protesters physically blocked her from entering through the back entrance of Jefferson Academy, a D.C. public middle school in Southwest, Washington, D.C. DeVos was eventually able to enter the school through a side entrance.

    Subsequent to the incident, the U.S. Marshals Service, rather than Education Department employees, began providing security for her. Education Department officials declined requests for information about the deployment of marshals or the current tasks of the Secretary's displaced security team normally assigned to her. Many of those security personnel are former Secret Service agents who have worked at the department for many years. Regarding the withdrawal of the department's team, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, "That's a waste of taxpayer money," Duncan said of the use of U.S. Marshals.

    DeVos said that on the basis of her first few days in the job, she had concerns that some Education Department employees were sympathetic to the Obama administration. "I ... would not be surprised if there are also those that would try to subvert the mission of this organization and this department," she stated. Asked what she could do about that, she said, "Whatever can be done will be done, and it will be done swiftly and surely."

    During her first visit to a public university on April 6, 2017, DeVos was confronted by around 30 protestors. She was touring an area designed to resemble a hospital ward at Florida International University. The following day, the U.S. Marshals Service said after a threat evaluation was conducted in February that DeVos would be given additional security, projecting a cost of $7.8 million between February and September.

    On March 24, 2017, during a visit to the Osceola County campus of Valencia College, DeVos said she was considering the extension of federal financial aid for students that were year-round and interested in placing more focus on community colleges.

    On April 11, 2017, DeVos undid several Obama administration policy memos issued by John King Jr. and Ted Mitchell which were designed to protect student loan borrowers.

    In April 2017, DeVos praised the President's nomination of Carlos G. Muñiz as the Department's general counsel.

    In April 2017, DeVos named Candice Jackson Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department's Office for Civil Rights, where she will be acting Assistant Secretary while that higher, Senate-confirmed appointment is vacant. DeVos named Jason Botel Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. Botel, a registered Democrat who supported President Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement, founded the KIPP Ujima Village Academy in Baltimore, after working for Teach For America.

    On May 10, 2017, DeVos gave a commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college, and during her speech a majority of the students booed DeVos, with about half of them standing up and turning their backs to her. She also received an honorary doctorate from Bethune-Cookman University. In February, DeVos had released a statement calling historically black colleges "real pioneers when it comes to school choice", causing controversy as some pointed out the schools originated after segregation laws prevented African-Americans from attending others. DeVos later acknowledged racism as an important factor in the history of historically black colleges.

    DeVos delivered her first extended policy address on March 29, 2017 at the Brookings Institution which included the topic of school choice which has been her main advocacy issue for more than 30 years. She stated an interest in implementing choice policies directed toward children as individuals and criticizing the Obama administration's additional funding of $7 billion for the U.S.'s worst-performing schools as "throwing money at the problem" in an attempt to find a solution. On May 22, 2017, DeVos announced the Trump administration was offering "the most ambitious expansion" of school choice within American history. DeVos cited Indiana (which has the U.S.'s largest school voucher program) as a potential model for a nationwide policy, but did not give specific proposals.

    In a May 2017 House of Representatives committee hearing, Rep. Katherine Clark, said an Indiana private school which takes publicly funded vouchers maintains it is entitled to deny admission to LGBTQ students or those coming from families with "homosexual or bisexual activity." Clark asked if she would inform Indiana that it could not discriminate in that way if it accepted federal funding, and asked her how she would respond in the event a voucher school rejected black students but a state "said it was okay." DeVos answered: "Well again, the Office of Civil Rights and our Title IX protections are broadly applicable across the board, but when it comes to parents making choices on behalf of their students..." Clark stopped her saying, "This isn't about parents making choices, this is about the use of federal dollars. Is there any situation? Would you say to Indiana, that school cannot discriminate against LGBT students if you want to receive federal dollars? Or would you say the state has the flexibility?" DeVos responded: "I believe states should continue to have flexibility in putting together programs ..."

    CBS reporter Lesley Stahl questioned her, in a March 2018 60 Minutes interview, about the documented failure of the DeVos programs to demonstrate a positive result, in Michigan, her home state: "Your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better is not working in Michigan ... where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system." Stahl added, "The public schools here are doing worse than they did." DeVos was unable to provide any actual examples of improvement, but stated there were "pockets" where schools had done better than public schools.

    On June 2, 2017, DeVos announced her support of President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement the prior day.

    On June 6, 2017, DeVos said states' rights would determine private schools being allocated funds by the federal government during an appearance before members of a House appropriations committee.

    On July 6, 2017, Democratic attorneys-general in 18 states and Washington, D.C., led by Massachusetts' attorney-general Maura Healey, filed a federal lawsuit against DeVos for suspending the implementation of rules that were meant to protect students attending for-profit colleges. The rules, developed during the Obama administration, were meant to take effect on July 1, 2017.

    On July 13, 2017, Candice Jackson, who is a sexual assault survivor, organized a meeting with DeVos, college sexual assault victims, accused assailants, and higher education officials, and said she would look at policies on sexual assault accusations on campuses from the Obama administration to see if accused students were treated within their rights. Asked by CBS 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl about her repeal of Obama administration guidelines for colleges dealing with reports of sexual assaults, she said her concern was for men falsely accused of such assaults. "Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved," said DeVos. However, some survivors of sexual assault and harassment and organizations which advocate on their behalf oppose the changes and say they would make schools more dangerous.

    In October 2017, DeVos revoked 72 guidance documents of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services which outlined the rights of disabled students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

    In a January 2018 speech, Devos said that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) found that "60 percent of its teachers reported having moderate to no influence over the content and skills taught in their own classrooms." In response, AFT noted that in the same survey of around 5,000 educators, 86% felt that Devos had disrespected them.

    In March 2018, DeVos announced a School Safety Commission, to provide meaningful and actionable recommendations. Members were four Cabinet members, including herself. The organization held a meeting on March 28 and a gathering of school shooting survivors and families on April 17.

    In mid-May 2018, The New York Times reported that under DeVos, the size of the team investigating abuses and fraud by for-profit colleges was reduced from about twelve members under the Obama administration to three, with their task also being scaled back to "processing student loan forgiveness applications and looking at smaller compliance cases". DeVos also appointed Julian Schmoke as the team's new supervisor; Schmoke was a former dean of DeVry Education Group, which was one of the institutions the team had been investigating. The investigation into DeVry was not the only one stopped, others include those of Bridgepoint Education and Career Education Corporation. The Education Department has hired more ex-employees and people affiliated with those institutions, such as Robert S. Eitel, senior counselor to DeVos, Diane Auer Jones, an advisor to the Department, and Carlos G. Muñiz, the Department's general counsel. Also reported by several news outlets was a sequence of payments made by DeVry to the DeVos Foundation.

    In late May 2018, Devos said that she believed it was "a school decision" on whether to report a student's family to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if the student or their family are undocumented immigrants. However, under Plyler v. Doe, the American Supreme Court ruled under the American constitution, schools are obligated to provide schooling irrespective of immigration status. The American Civil Liberties Union has said that because of this, it would be unconstitutional for schools to report students or their families to ICE.

    Whistleblower and former White House staffer, Omarosa Manigault Newman claimed that President Trump referred to her, after she left meetings, as "Ditzy" DeVos.

    On September 12, 2018 DeVos lost the lawsuit brought by 19 states and the District of Columbia, which accused the Department of Education of improperly delaying implementation of regulations protecting student loan borrowers from predatory practices. In 2019, DeVos unsuccessfully attempted to cut federal funding for the Special Olympics from her department's budget, which she had also attempted to cut in her previous two annual budgets.

    In May 2019, the Education Department Inspector General released a report concluding that DeVos had used personal email accounts to conduct government business and that she did not properly preserve these emails.

    Personal life

    The DeVos family is one of Michigan's wealthiest. Betsy DeVos's husband, Richard Marvin "Dick" DeVos Jr., is a multi-billionaire heir to the Amway fortune who ran Amway's parent company, Alticor, from 1993 to 2002. Dick DeVos is a major donor to conservative political campaigns and social causes, and was the 2006 Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan. They married in 1979, and have four grown children: Rick, Elissa, Andrea, and Ryan. Rick works for the Windquest Group as a consultant on urban development, and is the founder of Grand Rapids' ArtPrize festival. Dick's father, Richard Marvin DeVos Sr., co-founded Amway and was the owner of the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team. Richard DeVos was listed by Forbes in 2016 as having a net worth of $5.1 billion, making him America's 88th wealthiest individual.]

    Betsy DeVos's brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA, a private military services contractor.

    In August 2018, a vandal untied DeVos's $40 million yacht that had been moored at a marina on Lake Erie, causing it to sustain $10,000 in damages. The 163-foot-long (50 m) vessel is one of ten yachts owned by her family, which has a net worth of $5.3 billion. The craft is registered in the Cayman Islands, so is not subject to state property tax.

    Additional Reading

  • [📌 pinned article] DeVos Family Foundations

  • [, 2020-09-21] Carrie Severino Argues Precedent Supports Trump Filling SCOTUS Seat Before Election.

  • [, 2021-09-13] Betsy DeVos Is Still Undermining Public Schools. Next Target: Los Angeles.  In Los Angeles, Betsy DeVos is using the chaos of COVID-19 to push a voucher scheme that would force public schools to compete for students to stay open. After conquering LA, DeVos and friends aim to take the plan nationwide. The funding plan currently before the Los Angeles School Board goes by two names. Supporters call it "Student Centered Funding," while union educators and parent advocates know it as "the Betsy DeVos voucher scheme." Not content to retire from the school privatization business, Trump's Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has teamed up with the >American Legislative Councilschool voucher scheme in Los Angeles. The plan would send funds directly to school sites instead of ensuring a centrally enforced foundation of programs, educators, and staff at every school. This restructuring of allocations would set a precedent that could be duplicated across the nation. ...

  • [, 2018-08-17] The Bane That Is Betsy DeVos.  Watch out, the secretary of education is on the loose.

  • [, 2020-07-23] Trump and DeVos' Plan to Reopen Schools Hides a Sinister Agenda.  |  privitization of all public schools (replacing public education with Christian education) | non-governmental access to annual $694 billion public education budget (corporate predation) | maintain and expand racial segregation | eliminating or weakening teachers' unions.

  • [, 2020-07-13] Betsy DeVos' School-Reopening Plan Is Already Getting a Big Fat F.  Teachers and Democratic lawmakers are calling the education secretary's insistence and lack of a plan "dangerous" "malfeasance." Even some Republicans are pushing back.

  • [, 2020-07-12] If You Weren't Afraid to Send Your Kids Back to School, DeVos' Disastrous Interview Might Change That.  "The president and his administration are messing with the health of our children," Nancy Pelosi said in response.

  • [, 2020-07-12] "You can't do that": Betsy DeVos gets schooled by Fox News host.  Chris Wallace scolds Betsy DeVos for trying to illegally cut off school funding.

  • [, 2020-07-09] As coronavirus cases surge, Betsy DeVos compares risk of returning to school to riding a rocket ship.  "Risk is involved in everything we do, from learning to ride a bike to riding a rocket into space," DeVos says.

  • [, 2020-07-07] Trump, DeVos Ignore Educators On What It Will Take to Reopen Schools Safely.  Administration only offers radical agenda of voucher schemes to privatize public education.

  • [, 2020-06-26] "Huge Win:" Court Orders DeVos to Cancel Loans for Mass. Students Defrauded by Corinthian Colleges.  State Attorney General Maura Healey said the victory will benefit the mostly Black and Latinx students who were "targeted by a predatory for-profit school and abandoned by Secretary DeVos and the Trump administration."

  • [, 2020-06-12] "This Is Cruel:" DeVos Bars Certain Students, Including DACA Recipients, From COVID-19 Relief Funds.  "These extreme eligibility requirements will not only harm students, but they are also contrary to congressional intent," said Sen. Patty Murray.

  • [, 2020-06-05] Betsy DeVos Is Complicit in Evangelical Right's Assault on Trans Athletes.

  • [, 2020-05-21] Betsy DeVos Faces Pushback Over Plan To Reroute Aid To Private School Students. -

  • [, 2020-05-16] ACLU Sues Betsy DeVos Over "Reprehensible" New Sexual Assault Rules.  Suit against DOE claims new Title IX rules could mean far fewer campus reports of sexual harassment and assault.

  • [, 2019-03-29] Did you think Betsy DeVos' terrible, horrible, very bad, no-good week would drive her to quit as education secretary? Guess again..

  • [, 2019-03-27] "Evil' and 'Demonic:" Trump Admin, Betsy DeVos Cut All Federal Funding From Special Olympics.

  • [, 2020-03-11] Senate passes rebuke of DeVos over student loan forgiveness.  The Senate on Wednesday gave final congressional approval to a measure overturning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' rules making it harder for students to get loans erased after being misled by for-profit colleges.

  • [, 2019-12-10] Secretary DeVos Denies Students' Rights To Full Debt Cancellation.

  • [CBS "60 Minutes," 2018-03-11] Betsy DeVos' stumbling "60 Minutes" interview.

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