Well known in Central Florida Betsy DeVos will be Education Secretary
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen prominent charter school advocate Betsy DeVos as his secretary of education. Well known in central Florida, the daughter-in-law of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos and Orlando Magic owner — who Forbes estimates is worth $5.1 billion — she is currently chairman of the American Federation for Children. The organization promotes school vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs and education savings accounts. Its affiliated PAC supports pro-school choice candidates at the state level.
DeVos, from Michigan, is a longtime advocate for charter schools and school vouchers. She currently leads the advocacy group, American Federation for Children, and sits on the board of the former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush-led Foundation for Excellence in Education.
The DeVos family have been ardent GOP supporters for years. Richard DeVos launched Amway in 1959 and helped grow it into a $9.5 billion (revenues) direct-selling giant that does business in more than 100 countries today.
Trump, who was at his Palm Beach estate Wednesday for the Thanksgiving holiday, called DeVos “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,” Trump said.
DeVos said in her own statement, “The status quo in education is not acceptable.”
The family has been active in Republican politics for decades, especially as donors to GOP candidates and the Republican Party. DeVos’ husband, Dick, is an heir to the Amway fortune and a former president of the company.
The couple gave $22.5 million to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington in 2010, at the time the largest private donation in the center’s history.
Hours before the DeVos pick was announced, conservative policy leader Frank Cannon, president of American Principles Project, called her “an establishment, pro-Common Core secretary of education.”
“This would not qualify as ‘draining the swamp,'” Cannon said, referencing Trump’s campaign trail slogan. “And it seems to fly in the face of what Trump has stated on education policy up to this point.”
Asked about DeVos’ support for the Common Core standards, Trump spokesman Jason Miller noted that “the president-elect has been consistent and very clear in his opposition to Common Core.”
“Anybody joining the administration is signing on to the president-elect’s platform and vision for moving America forward,” Miller said.
The family have been active in central Florida since 1991 when Richard bought the Orlando Magic; last year he purchased a minority stake in the Chicago Cubs. But DeVos has also invested heavily in politics. They have also been very active in Orlando.
The DeVos family played a key role in helping to secure the state-of-the-art Amway Center in Orlando. The Amway Center is part of a public community venues program that also includes a new Performing Arts Center and a renovation of the Citrus Bowl Stadium. The new Amway Center opened in October 2010. In addition, the Magic also contributed $12.5 million toward construction of five community recreation centers throughout Orange County, Florida, as part of its commitment to build the new Amway Center.
Some quotes used in story were from ASSOCIATED PRESS and The Trump Transition team.