MADISON, Wis. — John Humphries, candidate for Superintendent of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, was enthusiastic in endorsing Betsy DeVos to head the federal Department of Education. In November he issued a statement saying he was “thrilled” at Donald Trump’s selection.
While DeVos may lack any professional qualifications, the Michigan billionaire has doled out massive contributions to Republican politicians and right wing groups. She and her family have donated huge sums to Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans. In addition, DeVos helped fund and run the American Federation for Children (AFC), a special interest group that supports taking funds from public education to support less accountable private voucher schools. In Wisconsin, AFC has spent over $5 million to help their favored politicians, although their campaign ads never mention the private school voucher program they support.
Amazingly, in her confirmation hearing before the United States Senate, on the issue of guns in schools, DeVos cited threats from grizzly bears as one reason she would not agree that firearms have no place on school grounds.
Also on display was a deeply troubling lack of understanding about core functions of the Department of Education including higher education student loans, regulations of for-profit colleges and federal requirements to guarantee students with disabilities can receive public education. DeVos further appeared unaware of education policy debates over how to best measure student achievement and refused to say she would support requiring private and charter schools receiving public funds from having to meet the same accountability standards as public schools.
The following are the statements of One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross:
“What we’re learning about John Humphries is that the only thing we can trust about him is that he’ll put his political ambition and interests before what’s best for Wisconsin schools and kids every time.
“Betsy DeVos has shown she is completely unfit to head the federal agency in charge of public education.
“That a candidate for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction would endorse such a person in a transparent, craven chase for campaign cash speaks volumes to his character and his qualifications.”