By Amanda Litvinov
Take Action ›
Demand a secretary of education who supports high-quality public schools for every student. Click here ›
Public school supporters—those who believe that all children, living in every zip code, deserve equal access to educational opportunity—are speaking out in opposition to Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.
Trump and DeVos have so far promised nothing but dangerous policies that harm students and weaken the public education system, which is completely at odds with the Department of Education’s critical mission to protect opportunity for all students.
If she is confirmed, DeVos will be the first anti-public school crusader to hold the position. And the causes and policies she supports will have a direct and negative effect on students.
Betsy DeVos supports policies that take resources away from public schools.
Educators and parents know that investing in neighborhood schools is the best way to help students succeed. A well-resourced school offers students one-on-one time with educators and a well-rounded curriculum, and in some cases, community physical and mental health services. DeVos instead supports voucher schemes that direct money for public schools to private and religious schools and unaccountable charter schools that are not held to the same standards as public schools. More than 80 percent of Michigan’s charter schools are operated by for-profit companies.
Those policies often exacerbate inequities in education.
Public school advocates reject the idea that receiving a good education should depend on a lottery or living in the “right” zip code. The so-called “school choice” schemes DeVos promotes typically offer less choice for vulnerable students—those with special needs or who don’t speak English, and those whose families live in poverty—and leave communities with a two-tiered system.
Betsy DeVos has worked against holding charter schools accountable.
Students’ futures should never take a backseat to corporate profits. In Michigan, DeVos has continued to support substandard charter schools and has thwarted attempts to hold them to the same standards as public schools. The DeVos family funds the Great Lakes Education Project, which was instrumental in halting a commission to regulate the opening and closing of charters in Detroit. The completely charterized district has been described as an “education fiasco perhaps unparalleled in the United States.” Detroit parents scramble to find schools they can access that will meet their students’ needs.
Betsy DeVos has no degree or experience in education; just immense wealth that she has used to manipulate the political process.
Students deserve leaders who have their best interests at heart, and a resume to back up their good intentions. But DeVos has no knowledge of what it’s like to teach in a public school, or what policies help students achieve and support educators. She never attended a public school, nor did her children. Yet she has invested millions of her family’s money to push privatization schemes that don’t improve outcomes for most students or close achievement gaps, and weaken educators’ ability to advocate for their students.
Betsy DeVos has a poor track record when it comes to civil rights.
Educators know that order to achieve at school, all students must first feel safe and supported. That’s why a key function of the Department of Education is enforcing laws that prevent discrimination based on gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, race and national origin, disabilities, or language spoken.
The school choice schemes Trump and DeVos promote increase racial segregation and undercut civil rights enforcement that is routine in public schools. And the DeVos family’s support for anti-LGBT causes is well-documented. Since 1998, the DeVos family has given more than $6.7 million to Focus on the Family, a group that supports “conversion therapy”—a debunked theory that purports to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian individuals that is strongly opposed by the American Psychiatric Association, the Human Rights Campaign, and scores of other medical and civil rights organizations.
If you believe that students deserve a Secretary of Education who defends their public schools, sign our open letter.