Mea culpa, Buzzfeed was right about the Secretary of Education pick coming down between Betsy DeVos and Michelle Rhee. President-elect Donald Trump announced that DeVos was his pick for Secretary of Education earlier this afternoon.
“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a released statement. “Under her leadership we will 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. I am pleased to nominate Betsy as Secretary of the Department of Education.”
“I am honored to accept this responsibility to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again,” DeVos said. “The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”
DeVos tweeted this out this afternoon.
Many of you are asking about Common Core. To clarify, I am not a supporter—period. Read my full stance, here: https://t.co/qB2nAXvX0B
— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos) November 23, 2016
Her statement was part of a Q&A, and I’m not certain when it was written.
Certainly. 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.
So we need to do our homework? Up until this Q&A was put up she had made no public statement about Common Core, and this one is rather vague. So like former Governor Mike Huckabee she’s saying she supported the American Diploma Project. She’s saying she doesn’t mind top-down standards provided they are not “turned into a federalized boondoggle.”
She does say she supports “high standards” so I’d like to ask her do you believe Common Core State Standards as written are “high standards”? She wants strong accountability so does she support Every Student Succeeds Act? Does she believe in federal mandated testing? Does she believe parents have the right to opt their students out? How about data collection?
She says she supports local control, but what exactly does that mean to her?
Here is what we do know and actions speak louder than words.
- She sat on the board of two organizations that are pro-Common Core – the Foundation for Excellence in Education, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s organization, and the Great Lakes Education Project.
- She helped fund an effort influence the Republican primaries in her home state of Michigan and provided financial support to an organization, Great Lakes Education Project, that was part of an effort to defeat Michigan’s Common Core repeal bill.
Karen Braun of Stop Common Core Michigan wrote:
GLEP is a strong supporter of the Common Core and its continued implementation in Michigan. They are part of the Michigan Coalition for High Student Standards which opposes SB 826 to Repeal and Replace Common Core, science, social studies, and aligned assessments with pre-common core Massachusetts standards. Stop Common Core in Michigan believes there is a high correlation between candidates who accept the GLEP endorsement and their future votes on legislation.
GLEP claims NOT to have a litmus test on Common Core. This allows candidates to say they are against common core and still gain the endorsement of GLEP. But DeVos is a champion for “school choice” while at the same time continuing the implementation of common national standards. The DeVos definition of “school choice” is the freedom to choose which common core school will track your child from cradle-to-career (P20). All Michigan charters must use common national standards. That’s NOT true choice.
Like Bill Gates, Betsy DeVos has some money and has some things she’d like to see different. Like all good investors, DeVos likely expects a return on her investment. And if you don’t play the game under their rules and vote the way you want her to vote, you may find yourself challenged the next time you run for office.
Former Michigan State Representative Tom McMillin said to me, “she and GLEP were one of the main leaders defending Common Core when I was fighting it in the legislature. In 2013 I know she was strongly supportive of Common Core and high stakes testing.”
When people in Michigan, who know her record on education activism the best, says her statement is bunk I’m listening.
Update: A friend of mine who has been working with education policy longer than I have and whom I respect a great deal brought up the following point. The groups in question that she supports also promote school choice. It is reasonable to consider that her support of those organizations, like Mrs. DeVos indicates, be because of school choice advocacy not Common Core. While she hasn’t been vocal in opposing Common Core she also has not been vocal in supporting it either.
I look at her a little more comprehensively at Caffeinated Thoughts, and I personally have come to the conclusion that I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt and give her a chance to lead. I’m confident she won’t be worse than the previous two Secretaries of Education. I know some may want to try to see her confirmation defeated, but I believe that is unlikely. Perhaps we need to take a neutral position and try to build a bridge instead.