MADISON, Wis. — The nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education is teetering on the brink of rejection by the U.S. Senate with bipartisan opposition to her confirmation building after a disastrous confirmation hearing and new allegations she plagiarized parts of her written answers to questions submitted by members of the committee weighing her nomination. Yet Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction hopefuls John Humphries and Lowell Holtz, all of whom have or are hoping to benefit from the financial largesse of the Michigan billionaire private school voucher backer, continue to stand by their woman.
“Betsy DeVos has proven her qualifications to open her checkbook for politicians willing to kowtow to her ideological crusade to take funds from public schools and give them to less accountable private schools,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “But as Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, the position for which Walker, Humphries and Holmes support her, she has show herself to be manifestly unqualified.”
Ross noted that 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.
New allegations of plagiarism have hit DeVos with news reports that sections of her written answers to questions from members of the Senate committee considering her nomination were taken from other sources and submitted, without attribution.
This comes on the heels of a disastrous hearing in which, 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.
“These three, Walker, Humphries and Holtz, all claim they care about public schools. But when they continue to stand by Betsy DeVos it’s clear they’re more interested in the impact she can have on their campaign war chests than the disastrous consequences of allowing this unqualified, plagiarizing nominee to be in charge of education policy,” concluded Ross.