Why Are Republicans Backing Betsy DeVos?



By Thomas L. Knapp


Betsy DeVos

US president Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, faces a great deal of opposition to her confirmation. Most of that opposition comes from Democratic politicians and Democratic organizations. But if both parties stuck to their stated principles and goals, the Senate would vote 100-0 against her nomination.

Democratic opposition is easy to understand. The Department of Education is a major power center for the party. It employs 4,400 bureaucrats and disposes of a $68 billion budget. That budget is deceptively small. Although federal funds represent only about 8% of national government education spending, those funds come with strings attached allowing DoE (and by extension the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union and a key Democratic constituency) to exert considerable control over every school district in America.

DeVos supports for-profit charter schools which compete with failing regular government schools for tax dollars. She also supports “voucher” programs which allow parents to use tax dollars to send their children to private schools. To groups like NEA, her nomination is the equivalent of waving a crucifix at a vampire. No wonder the Democrats hate her.

Republicans, on the other hand, have been promising to eliminate the Department of Education since 1980, the year it commenced operations. Somehow, though, they never seem to get around to it, even when they have complete control of the federal government and can do anything they like.

Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the White House for four years during the administration of George W. Bush, and at the end of that the Department of Education still existed.

Now they control the House, the Senate and the White House again, and instead of consigning DoE to the dustbin of history as promised, they’re entertaining the nomination of a new secretary to head the department.

The truth is that Republicans like the idea of federal meddling in education (something authorized nowhere in the US Constitution) as much as Democrats do. Their preferred form of interference is, if anything, even more pernicious than the NEA’s “keep our tax-funded combination daycare centers/juvenile prisons just like they are, only more money, please” model.

“Voucher” programs and “charter schools” and other Republican schemes don’t get the government out of your childrens’ education. They just extend government regulation into “private” education and direct tax dollars to companies operated by Republican politicians’ cronies instead of to labor unions operated by Democratic politicians’ cronies.

What, did you think a voucher would let you send your kid to a school that doesn’t meet government educrats’ “standards” and “guidelines?” Silly parent! Real private schools are for rich folks like Betsy DeVos!

There’s only one way to make American education great again: Complete separation of school and state.

Thomas Knapp -- Photo Credit Avens O'Brien

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.  He is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Thomas L. Knapp
Thomas L. Knapp
4 years ago


DeVos doesn’t have the power to eliminate Common Core, which is not even a federal program (it was developed by the GOP-dominated National Governors Association).

“Vouchers” and “education tax credits” are big-government programs that would increase, not decrease, government interference in education. Look at what happened with the GI Bill, Pell Grants, etc. When a “private” school starts taking government money it’s on the road to becoming a de facto government school.

Citizen Reporter
4 years ago

Common Core was pushed by the federal govt via Arnie Duncan DOE. The Obama admin also illegally used stimulus funds to bribe the states to implemented and surreptitiously coordinated getting Common Core into the states.

Common Core was never validated or tested and never should have been rammed through nearly nationwide except for 5 states that had the good sense to reject it,

Thomas L. Knapp
Thomas L. Knapp
4 years ago

Mr. Hicks,

No, DeVos cannot “potentially eliminate” DoE. Only Congress can do that.

Citizen Reporter,

Why would I need to provide evidence for a claim I didn’t make?

Citizen Reporter
4 years ago

Mr. Knapp:

Because you are criticizing DeVos’ nomination as DOEDirector.

Why would you be opposed to someone who wants to eliminate Common Core, direct voucher money for parents to use in schools of their choice for children and ultimately minimize or eliminate DOE? If Trump can’t eliminate DOE, as you told Mr. Hicks, then what better way to limit its influence by inserting a Trump Director who will work hard to do so?

Those schools getting voucher money do not even have to be charter schools, which are in fact government-financed and regulated schools, even if they have private management. Vouchers can also be used for private schooling. In most cases, the vouchers are district money, not federal money, although much of that filters down to districts and comes with strings attached.

So, what specifically is your objection to DeVos? Is is it just because she favors vouchers, which provide some choice to parents? Is it because she wants to take over a department we both believe shouldn’t even exist?

William Hicks
William Hicks
4 years ago

Because Devos is anathema to the NEA, she is the perfect person to reduce the power of the DoE and potentially eliminate it. I can’t understand that some people can’t see that possibility.

Citizen Reporter
4 years ago

Mr. Knapp: what evidence do you have that Ms. DeVos doesn’t intend to radically cut back NEA? If she did intend to, it wouldn’t be good to flaunt that too much at confirmation hearings.

Legalizing vouchers doesn’t mean that the feds are going to pay them. I think she is down on Common Core, which is good.