FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday March 29, 2023

Contact: Cassie Creswell, Illinois Families for Public Schools,773-916-7794



CHICAGO – Last week ex-President Trump’s former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made a $59,000 independent expenditure in support of mayoral candidate Paul Vallas’ campaign from a Super PAC she funds, the Illinois Federation for Children PAC.

The Illinois Federation for Children PAC was established in March 2022 and has received $465,000 in total from DeVos’ American Federation for Children Action Fund, a national 527 PAC. The Illinois Federation PAC’s chair, Nathan Hoffman, was a registered contract lobbyist in Springfield for the American Federation for Children until January this year.

Although DeVos has not endorsed Vallas, Vallas’ education plans for Chicago’s school system are directly aligned with DeVos agenda of school privatization, one she supported as Secretary of Education and promotes through her national network of advocacy organizations and PACs: defunding and dismantling public school systems and redirecting public funds via programs like vouchers for private schools.

In a little-noticed February 2022 op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, Vallas laid out a radical plan for privatizing Chicago Public Schools (CPS). In addition to supporting Illinois’ existing Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship voucher program, which already diverts millions to pay for vouchers for more than 4000 Chicago children, Vallas would create a city-funded voucher program and pay for it with funds from the CPS operating budget earmarked for teacher pensions. The pension payments would then instead be covered by surplus Tax Increment Financing dollars.

In that same op-ed, Vallas also proposes allowing religious private schools to become district-funded charter (or “contract”) schools, a policy so extreme that it was recently rejected by the conservative Republican attorney general of Oklahoma as “state-funded religion.”

Vallas also voices his support for “a reconstituted system in which parents get to direct the per-pupil public dollars to the school (or education model) of their choosing.” More recently, Vallas told WBEZ that “money should follow the students” and “we should be running districts of schools, not school districts.” The education platform on Vallas’ website calls for “dismantling the central administration” of CPS. These are exactly the policies that DeVos and American Federation for Children are advocating: funding students not systems and that dollars must follow students.
In June 2022, Vallas appeared on a panel with keynote speaker Corey DeAngelis, senior fellow at American Federation for Children. The panel, organized by extremist anti-LGBTQ+ parent group, Awake Illinois. Vallas later denounced Awake Illinois, but did not dissociate himself from DeAngelis or American Federation for Children.

Secretary DeVos’ education agenda was harmful to public schools on a national scale. Chicago voters should know that DeVos supports Vallas’ candidacy and that there is no daylight between DeVos and Vallas’ education policies.