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DeVos In Detail: The Controversy Over The Prospective Education Secretary
01/26/2017 Cabinet Positions Andrew S
keywords: Bathrooms Devos Controversy

President Trump’s cabinet picks are nothing if not controversial, and his choice for Secretary of Education is no exception. His pick, Betsy DeVos, stands out from previous secretaries for her limited experience, unorthodox policy positions, and conflicts of interest. This has prompted widespread concern among liberals and many moderates, who worry about the future of American education with her at the helm.

Personal Profile

A Michigan native, Betsy DeVos is a businesswoman, an activist, and the daughter of billionaires Elsa and Edgar Prince, who made their fortune building automobile parts. Her husband, Richard DeVos, Jr., is also a billionaire, being the heir to the Amway corporation; the two have four children. A devout Christian of neo-Calvinist influence, she received her education at Holland Christian High School and Calvin College, both religious schools.

DeVos has spent much of her career advocating for education reform, having chaired the American Federation for Children and worked with other organizations championing charter, private, and religious schools. She has also been a strong advocate of conservative policies, and was the chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and again from 2003 to 2005. She and her family have donated millions of dollars to the GOP and to conservative groups such as Focus on the Family.

Considering The Controversy

Opponents of Devos’s confirmation have cited a myriad of concerns, including:

As controversial as DeVos is, she stands a good chance of being confirmed as Secretary of Education. Opposition to her confirmation comes largely from Senate Democrats, who do not have the votes to deny her the position on their own. Cabinet secretaries cannot be filibustered, so as long as Senate Republicans remain unified, they can confirm her without Democratic support. Nonetheless, confirming such a contentious secretary may burn the Republican Party’s political capital, making it harder for them to drum up public support for future policies and appointments.

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