With her deep ties to Wisconsin’s private-school choice movement and disdain for unions thwarting reforms, Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Education Secretary, was a name that sent shock waves through the state’s education circles Wednesday.
“It is completely jazzing the entire school-choice community nationwide,” said Jim Bender, president of advocacy group School Choice Wisconsin. “It’s like, game on.”
Gov. Scott Walker congratulated DeVos, whom he called his friend, on Twitter while Democratic Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan tweeted the nomination was “really bad news for public schools.”
DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, and both are heirs to the fortune amassed by Michigan-based direct sales company Amway, which was co-founded by Dick’s father, Richard DeVos. Betsy DeVos was active in Republican politics and has focused on schools as board chair of her national advocacy group, American Federation for Children, based in Washington, D.C. The group has funneled millions of dollars into campaigns around the country to elect school choice friendly lawmakers and to lobby aggressively for school choice legislation.