Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education yesterday, in a tight 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence casting an unprecedented tie-breaking vote. The former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, she has been widely criticized for her complete lack of education experience—even though Trump called her “a brilliant and passionate education advocate.”
“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.”
DeVos has said she was ready to help Trump “make American education great again.”
“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.”
It’s not likely DeVos will support President Obama’s efforts to support trans schoolchildren, or rally behind other LGBT issues in education—including comprehensive sex-ed, GSAs or LGBT representation in curricula. During her hearings, DeVos declared, “I fully embrace equality and I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination.”
She is the daughter-in-law of Amway founder Richard DeVos. In the past decade, the DeVos family has given $2 million in donations to fight same-sex marriage, to groups including the National Organization for Marriage.
With more than 4,400 employees, the Education Department has an annual budget of $68 billion. Sen. Al Franken, who grilled DeVos during her hearing, criticized her appointment in a statement this afternoon.
The Secretary of Education “oversees the policies that children, teachers, school administrators, and entire communities depend on,” he said. “It’s not a job for amateurs who don’t know the first thing about education. I voted against the nomination of Betsy DeVos… because she is the most incompetent cabinet-level nominee I have ever seen.”
Franken added the 59-year-old philanthropist was as “fundamentally unqualified” for the spot and lamented “Republicans voted to confirm one of their major donors instead of looking out for our children.”
DeVos’ controversial nomination prompted a reported 1.5 million calls from constituents a day, and the defection of two Republican senators against her appointment.