Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Betsy DeVos Battle Is Over, Now She Deserves A Chance As Secretary Of Education: Here's Why

Betsy DeVos with husband Dick and Vice President Mike Pence

By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At

She's been called a myriad of names over the years: Elite Republican donor. Education Reformer. Disruptor. Billionaire. Madam Chair (while serving as Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party). Union buster and bigot (by liberal detractors). A "#NeverTrump (she didn't vote for Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, refusing to even stand up and applaud him during his nominating speech). Enemy of public education...

She's also a Mom and a wife, as well as the daughter of a public school teacher.

Tonight, you can call her "The Honorable Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education."

Shortly after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to end a 50-50 deadlock in the Senate, the first time in US history that has happened for a Cabinet nominee, DeVos was sworn in as the nation's highest ranking education official by Vice President Pence, with husband Dick DeVos by her side.

The vote was a reflection of the controversy surrounding the DeVos nomination.

Once announced, the pressure to sink DeVos has been intense. Led by well funded and organized unions, yet fueled by genuine grassroots energy from teachers across the nation, protests against DeVos popped up nationwide. Two Senators, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, decided to jump ship, opposing DeVos while the rest of the caucus held together in support of the President's nominee.

Betsy's nomination highlighted an interesting paradox and a dueling narrative has been promulugated: while liberals across the country chastised her for being anti gay, some staunch conservatives in Michigan blasted her as being too LGBT friendly. While liberals said she would dismantle public education, conservative detractors claimed she would uphold the Common Core status quo and leave the current system largely untouched....

The battle over Betsy DeVos has been an interesting one, but now the Senate has spoken, President Trump's choice has been confirmed, it's time to give Betsy a chance.

Betsy DeVos is not a perfect candidate for Secretary of Education, no one is. I've written in great detail about both the immense amount of respect I have for the contributions the DeVos family has made to the state, as well as some of the concerns I have about how much power they wield in Lansing.

One thing is clear though, Betsy DeVos cares about our students and has no time for the union leadership that has ruined many schools, protecting the status quo while leaving new teachers (and students) behind.

Betsy is a fierce champion of school choice, she has a great record of supporting our homeschool students, and she believes in legislative policies that allow tax dollars to follow the student's choice of school, arguably the number one tool to empower families and bring more much-needed competition into our education system...

In the past, she's been closely affiliated with entities that support Common Core and backed repeated Detroit school bailouts, she also refused to stand for Mr. Trump in Cleveland... People make mistakes though, and in areas like Common Core (she says she personally never supported it) she will be superseded by President Trump.

Working side-by-side with President Trump, with a watchful eye (and maybe a word or two) from our grassroots, I think Betsy DeVos will be an Education Secretary that we can be proud of. I could be wrong, and if she fails to deliver, make no mistake, Mr Trump will send her right back to Grand Rapids!  
No Secretary of Education can wave a magic wand like Harry Potter and fix all the problems in schools across America, but we have numerous improvements we can make at the federal level to help empower the states and local school districts, as well as parents, students and even teachers and principals-that's a great place to start.

I would challenge our grassroots here in Michigan to give Betsy a chance, look at this as an opportunity for your voice to be heard and given directly to Mr Trump, Betsy is from Michigan, she will be a secretary for all students, but this is where she is from! So are many of her closest advisors... Send a box of chocolates instead of a grenade and you might like the results you get...

There once was a time where I was a punk High School student that Betsy went out of her way for to get tickets to see George W Bush when he came to Grand Rapids in 2004.

I didn't know her except from meeting her at an event, I ran my local Bush/Cheney office as freshman in high school with a wonderful activist named Lois Powers, causing me to cross paths with Betsy. I certainly wasn't a donor or anyone halfway important, yet when I reached out when Bush came to GR, she remembered me and hooked me up with VIP tickets and a handwritten note that thanked me for my work, praised one of my strategic plans I derped to her about, and ended with a quip about always keep up the fight...
She is not the Wicked Witch of the West! Let's see how she does in DC, don't give her an "F" before she's even taken the test.
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at

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