With a few days left until President-Elect Donald Trump takes office, all eyes will be on Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for U.S. Secretary of Education, who will appear on Capitol Hill Tuesday for Senate confirmation hearings.
DeVos is a billionaire businesswoman and former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party who is a strong proponent of charter schools and school vouchers. But while DeVos believes families should have more choice when it comes to their children’s K-12 education, she hasn’t said much about her views on higher education.
The absence of information on how she will tackle the nation’s student loan debt or how she will increase access to a college education has student debt advocates on edge. Opponents to DeVos are concerned that she wants to privatize education. Additionally, they point out that she will be the first Education Secretary that has never been an educator, oversaw a state department of education, or attended or had children that attended a public school.
Take Natalia Abrams, executive director of Student Debt Crisis, as an advocate that is dismayed by DeVos appointment. In December she was quoted as saying “to appoint someone that has absolutely no stated opinion on it at all is grossly incompetent at this point.”
In addition to concerns about her lack of experience and her support of charter schools, there’s also a link between DeVos and Social Finance, a student loan refinancing startup, that may or may not be a conflict. The Wall Street Journal reported that she is an indirect investor in the startup up through her involvement with RPM Ventures, a venture capital firm that was an early investor in Social Finance.
While detractors of DeVos are slamming her lack of experience, this reason may be exactly why Trump chose her for the role. After all, Trump came to office with zero political experience and vowed to change the way government operates. Tapping someone with little education experience jives with other picks for his cabinet. When announcing the appointment of DeVos, Trump put it like this: “Betsy DeVos is 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.”
Author: Andrew Rombach
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