Betsy DeVos

Jeff Bryant: Big Money Consolidates Its Grip on the Nation’s Public Schools

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Jeff Bryant sees Betsy DeVos as a continuation of the policies of Arne Duncan, which were a continuation of the policies of NCLB. Duncan started the mass school closings, teacher bashing, and privatization. DeVos will carry school choice to the next step by tying federal aid to vouchers, if she can.

 

Jeff writes:

 

As a recent article by L.S. Hall for Inside Philanthropy recounts, the DeVoses rank right up there with Charles and David Koch as “among the most influential conservative funders over recent decades, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into an array of think tanks, legal groups, leadership institutes, and more.” In their home state of Michigan alone, they have given an estimated $44 million in political donations.

 

“Like today’s most savvy ideological funders on both left and right,” Hall continues, “the DeVos family has pulled all the levers of power afforded to the wealthy.”

 

Also, like other philanthropists, their favorite levers are often related to remaking K-12 education.

 

“DeVos’ efforts in recent years exemplify how top school donors have combined philanthropic and political giving to press their agenda,” writes Hall, an agenda of charter schools and more “choice” that is strikingly similar to the “reforms” advocated by the Walton, Gates, and Broad foundations.

 

As he points out, the differences between DeVos and Duncan are significant:

 

As Casey Quinlan of Think Progress, reports, DeVos “has a long record of supporting anti-LGBTQ causes,” including donating (along with her husband Dick DeVos) to “efforts to amend the Michigan constitution to ban same-sex marriage” and contributing “hundreds of thousands to Focus on the Family, a group that supports conversion therapy, which subjects LGBTQ “patients” to coercive “counseling” in an attempt to rid them of their “condition.”

 

Given this history, one has to wonder, as Quinlan does, how DeVos will regard anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ students in our schools.

 

In addition to mixing her attitudes on gender into her policies, DeVos may stir in her religious views.

 

As Rebecca Klein reports for Huffington Post, when Dick DeVos ran for Michigan governor in 2006, he campaigned on schools having the option to teach intelligent design alongside evolution. Also, the DeVos foundation – which wife and husband operate together – has given money to “the Thomas More Law Center, a group that defended a school trying to teach intelligent design.”

 

DeVos is a funder and ally of the religious right. She is not a conservative, she is an extremist.

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