Editor's Note: This article was originally published the morning prior to Trump's announcement, and is particularly relevant for parents in light of Trump's choice. The headline and opening paragraph have also been edited to reflect Trump's selection.
Well, there you have it folks. Trump has just picked his education secretary after narrowing down his choices to two pro-Common Core, pro-micromanaging women: Michelle Rhee and Betsy DeVos. I've already discussed what a terrible pick Rhee would have been, but DeVos is no better. DeVos fails on two key promises Trump repeatedly made to voters: "Get rid of Common Core" and "keep education local."
Hensley-Clancy writes that DeVos now claims to be against Common Core, of all things! That’s sure news to all the grassroots folks she pit her big money against during their legislative battles to reject Common Core. Grassroots folks report to me that DeVos’ husband personally called state senators in Michigan to get them to vote against a Common Core repeal bill. DeVos’ American Federation for Children also contributed huge sums of money for state school board races in Alabama on the side of Common Core supporters trying to oust Common Core opponents
His transition team reported Trump’s “discussion with Ms. Betsy DeVos was focused on the Common Core mission, and setting higher national standards and promoting the growth of school choice across the nation.” See that “setting higher national standards”? That’s an education establishment euphemism for Common Core. National standards are what Common Core was designed to be. Pursuing them is how we got Common Core.
Setting “high standards” is the job of parents and local communities, not the U.S. education nanny. Tying “high standards” to school choice is also troubling, because this is again bureaucrat-speak for “requiring all private schools to teach Common Core using the control mechanism of tests.”
When DeVos touts “school choice,” she’s pushing an education agenda that includes requiring all the schools that take voucher money to use state-determined curriculum, like Common Core. This is how she has used her millions of dollars in the past. If she’s education secretary, we have every reason to believe it’s how she’d use even more power.
This is a pitch-perfect way to dramatically increase the negatives of school choice just as it’s becoming popular across the country. The latest opinion polls show a dip in national support for Common Core. I suspect it’s related to this dynamic because I get communications every week from conservative parents who are suddenly against school choice because it’s brought Common Core into their private schools through vouchers.
If Trump wants to increase school choice and be known as a president who dramatically improved education options for kids, he needs to send DeVos packing. Her forms of manipulative bait-n-switch “school choice” degrade the market by replacing one set of monopolies with another one they control. That’s not school choice. That’s bureaucrat choice. In other words, same old, same old.
These are not the kind of people to whom Trump promised Americans he’d delegate our power.
If Trump also wants to make good on his promise to “drain the swamp” on behalf of Americans who are sick of political cronyism, DeVos is again a horrible pick. Just read what she wrote in Roll Call in 1997: “I know something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return.” In other words, “My money gives me the right to influence politicians more than you can, peons.”
National Common Core grassroots leader Heather Crossin told Breitbart that parents “sent a ‘fighter’ to the White House and expect him to appoint ‘fighters’ to his cabinet, not politicians who represent the status quo.” On her Hoosiers Against Common Core blog, Crossin wrote that Trump should instead look to fulfill the legacy of a conservative leader who stood by Trump before anyone else did, and knows education far better than Rhee or DeVos: Phyllis Schlafly.
As those who followed her know, while Phyllis’s brilliance allowed her to speak on most every political subject, her longest-running signature issue was education. She believed that its control must be returned not only to the local level, but to those closest to the child, their parents. She understood that unless federal intrusion was eliminated and the power of the lobbyists of the vast education industry diminished, no school choice program in the world would have even a chance at improving American education....
Therefore, it’s alarming to learn that other than Bill Evers and Larry Arnn, the bulk of those reportedly being vetted for secretary of education (Michelle Rhee, Betsy Devos, Tony Bennett, Eva Moscowitz, and Kevin Chavous) all have views on education that couldn’t be more diametrically opposed to Schlafly’s. These people not only support Common Core, they fail to understand the importance of draining the education swamp. In fact, most are products of and live within the swamp that permeates the $600 billion K-12 education industry. They represent Jeb Bush’s Common Core machine that Donald Trump ran against.
The DeVos family are part of the new-money ruling elite who look down their noses at “rubes” like Heather Crossin, who do things like oppose Common Core and vote for Donald Trump. These are not the kind of people to whom Trump promised Americans he’d delegate our power.
Editor's Note: Following Trump's announcement, Betsy DeVos took to Twitter to dispute the notion that she supports Common Core.
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
Conservative Review Senior Editor Michelle Malkin weighed in on that statement:
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) November 23, 2016
- The secretary of education for President-elect Trump should be … nobody
- Think Common Core is bad? New standards crank the creep-factor up to eleven
- New education regulations miss the point of learning
Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist.