Rebecca Mead, staff writer at The anew Yorker, outlines the advantages that Betsy DeVos offers:


She has no ties to Vladimir Putin; she hasn’t spread fake news; she apparently has no plans to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education. Of these three “advantages,” I feel confident only about the first one. Her persistent lambasting of public schools is fake news. And it remains to be seen whether she will close down the ED Department.


Of this we can be confident: she is the first Secretary of Education who is actively hostile to public education. She is an extremist ideologue. She is unfit to manage a large government agency that is responsible not only for aid to poor children in K-12 but for aid to higher education, student debt, aid to special education, education research, and a variety of other programs about which she is inexperienced and uninformed.


Mead writes:


“DeVos has never taught in a public school, nor administered one, nor sent her children to one. She is a graduate of Holland Christian High School, a private school in her home town of Holland, Michigan, which characterizes its mission thus: “to equip minds and nurture hearts to transform the world for Jesus Christ.”


How might DeVos seek to transform the educational landscape of the United States in her position at the head of a department that has a role in overseeing the schooling of more than fifty million American children? As it happens, she does have a long track record in the field. Since the early nineteen-nineties, she and her husband, Dick DeVos, have been very active in supporting the charter-school movement. They worked to pass Michigan’s first charter-school bill, in 1993, which opened the door in their state for public money to be funnelled to quasi-independent educational institutions, sometimes targeted toward specific demographic groups, which operate outside of the strictures that govern more traditional public schools. (Dick DeVos, a keen pilot, founded one of his own: the West Michigan Aviation Academy, located at Gerald Ford International Airport, which serves an overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male population of students.)”


DeVos has a long record of promoting choice, that is, seeking alternatives to public schools. She doesn’t like public schools. She believes in choice without accountability. As Mead points out, the dire situation in Detroit reflects her ideology. Detroit has been Her Petrilli dish. It is a colossal failure. Despite what is right before her, she still believes that choice is all that is needed to produce excellence. Except it doesn’t, never has, never will. In DeVos’s mind, ideology trumps all, evidence doesn’t matter. She thinks that public schools are passé, finished, so yesterday.


Mead writes:


“Missing in the ideological embrace of choice for choice’s sake is any suggestion of the public school as a public good—as a centering locus for a community and as a shared pillar of the commonweal, in which all citizens have an investment. If, in recent years, a principal focus of federal educational policy has been upon academic standards in public education—how to measure success, and what to do with the results—DeVos’s nomination suggests that in a Trump Administration the more fundamental premises that underlie our institutions of public education will be brought into question. In one interview, recently highlighted by Diane Ravitch on her blog, DeVos spoke in favor of “charter schools, online schools, virtual schools, blended learning, any combination thereof—and, frankly, any combination, or any kind of choice that hasn’t yet been thought of.” A preëmptive embrace of choices that haven’t yet been thought of might serve as an apt characterization of Trump’s entire, chaotic cabinet-selection process. But whether it is the approach that will best serve current and prospective American school students is another question entirely.”