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Even though she is out as Secretary of Education, we are going to continue to monitor the actions of Betsy DeVos

November 12, 2020

Like many, I will be delighted to see Betsy DeVos be forced to leave her position as US Secretary of Education. How wonderful it will be for her to be shown the door in the coming weeks.

For those of us in West Michigan, we understand that she has spent the last 4 years in the Trump administration attacking public education and expanding funding for Charter and private schools. However, we also understand that Betsy DeVos has spent the last three decades attacking public education and re-directing funding for Charter and private schools through school vouchers and other tactics.

Over the past four years, we have been writing about Betsy DeVos, from the time that she was first picked by the Trump administration, to the Grand Rapids Public School Superintendent celebrating Betsy’s selection as the Secretary of Education, to that instructive moment when DeVos’s financial holdings were being scrutinized.

GRIID then spent the past 4 years providing regular analysis of policy decisions and deconstructions of speeches by Betsy DeVos in our column called Betsy DeVos Watch

We produced 70 articles investigating Betsy DeVos during her tenure as Secretary of Education and are proud of that work.

However, despite our glee with the soon departure of Betsy DeVos from her position, we will continue to monitor the actions of Betsy DeVos. The reason why we will continue to monitor Betsy, is because she did as much damage to public education before becoming the Secretary of Education. 

People are somewhat familiar with what Betsy DeVos has done in Michigan since her failure School Voucher ballot initiative in 2000. After that loss, Betsy created the Great Lakes Education Project and continued to work closely with groups like the DeVos-created Michigan Freedom Fund, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Acton Institute, all of which spend significant time on pushing for privatized education by using a “School Choice” mantra. 

On the national level, Betsy DeVos has been working with groups like the American Federation of Children, All Children Matter, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council and many more. 

Betsy DeVos is also still a darling in the Republican Party and will now be able to contribute money again to the GOP, along with her family, which contributed over $20 million during the Trump years.

It is important to celebrate the fact that Betsy DeVos will no longer be the Secretary of Education. However, we should not assume that the incoming Secretary of Education will be a defender of public education, especially since Arne Duncan was no real champion of public schools, as Diane Ravitch points out in her excellent article from 2017.

It is equally important that we continue to monitor how Betsy DeVos will work to undermine public education through her nationwide connection to far right groups that embrace a Neo-Liberal Education model. 

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