Betsy DeVos picked for Trump’s education secretary

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President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos pose for a photo after their meeting at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Betsy DeVos, a top Republican donor and school choice activist, to head the Department of Education, the Trump transition team announced Wednesday.

Trump met with the billionaire donor and conservative activist this weekend at his golf club in New Jersey, where he hosted a slew of potential cabinet appointees. Trump offered DeVos the position on Tuesday and she accepted the same day, a senior Trump transition official told CNN.

“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday. “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 chairs the American Federation for Children, a group that promotes charter school education, and also served on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a group led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — one of Trump’s GOP primary opponents — which promoted both school choice and the Common Core education standards.

Trump vowed during his campaign to eliminate the Common Core education standards, and his pick of DeVos may scare conservative opponents of the standards who hope Trump will make good on his campaign promise in office.

DeVos did not mention Common Core in a statement Wednesday, but said broadly that “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 said in a statement.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller said Sunday that Trump’s meeting with DeVos “largely focused on Common Core, setting higher national standards” and “promoting school choice across the nation.”

Bush, who refused to endorse Trump in the general election, praised Trump’s decision in a Facebook post, calling DeVos “an outstanding pick.”

“Her allegiance is to families, particularly those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder, not to an outdated public education model that has failed them from one generation to the next,” Bush wrote. “I cannot think of more effective and passionate change agent to press for a new education vision, one in which students, rather than adults and bureaucracies, become the priority in our nation’s classrooms.”

DeVos has been involved in Republican politics both as a donor and as a party official for decades and served as the state Republican Party chair in Michigan.

The National Education Association, the largest labor union in the US, was quick to slam Trump’s pick, arguing that DeVos has “done more to undermine public education than support students” and accusing her of pushing “a corporate agenda.”

“She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers — which take away funding and local control from our public schools — to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense. These schemes do nothing to help our most-vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps. She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education,” the labor union representing teachers and school administrators said in a statement. “By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.”