Betsy DeVos Nominated to Head U.S. Department of Education

B99468301Z.1_20161123141018_000_GOR18773B.1-0President-Elect Donald Trump has been busy the past few weeks identifying individuals to fill key cabinet-level positions in his new administration. Just before Thanksgiving Day Trump announced that Betsy DeVos would be his nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). Her nomination will need to be considered by the Senate Education Committee (HELP) next year and is subject to confirmation by the full chamber.

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who heads the Senate HELP Committee, applauded DeVos’ nomination saying, “Betsy DeVos is an excellent choice. The Senate’s education committee will move swiftly in January to consider her nomination.” The chairman also noted that he looked forward to working with her on the ongoing implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and on the forthcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in the next Congress. While much is known about DeVos’ positions on secondary education, particularly her steadfast support charter school policies and school choice, her views on many postsecondary issues remain somewhat less understood at this time.

Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the lead Democrat on the Senate HELP Committee, issued a more measured statement regarding the nomination saying, in part, “I look forward to meeting with Betsy DeVos and talking to her about her vision for the Department of Education and whether and how it includes expanding access to educational opportunities for students across the country.”

Mrs. DeVos is best known for her political advocacy in the state of Michigan promoting pro-charter school policies. She also is the Chairwoman for the American Federation for Children—an advocacy organization focused on promoting school choice policies at the federal, state, and local level among other endeavors.

DeVos and her husband Dick are also ardent financial supporters of the Republican Party, particularly in their home state of Michigan where Dick ran an unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2006. Through this work, the couple has been extremely successful in enacting pro-school choice policies in the state of Michigan to promote charter schools via voucher programs and tax credits among other policy prescriptions. Mrs. DeVos’ husband also founded and runs the West Michigan Aviation Academy— a theme-based charter school in Grand Rapids, MI focused on the aviation and engineering fields.

While Mrs. DeVos’ views on CTE are unknown, her upcoming nomination process in the 115th Congress will shed more light on this critical topic and more. With Senators Murray and Alexander set to lead the HELP Committee next year for their respective parties, and further changes to the committee composition likely, Advance CTE will continue to monitor and engage with this process to ensure CTE and related federal legislation are prioritized by the incoming USDE leadership team.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

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