GOP donor Betsy DeVos accepts education secretary post in Trump Cabinet

President-elect Donald Trump appointed billionaire businesswoman Betsy DeVos as his education secretary, and she has accepted the post, his transition team announced Wednesday.

“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a statement. “Under her leadership, we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”

DeVos, of Grand Rapids, Mich., is chair of Windquest Group, a privately held investment firm, and has been active in politics for more than 35 years. She was elected chair of the Michigan Republican Party four times, according to her official biography.

But the experiences that would have best prepared her for the intricacies of education policy would come from her work as chair of the American Federation for Children, dedicated to reforming the country’s K-12 education so that “parents, particularly those in low-income families, [may] choose the education they determine is best for their children.” The AFC is a conservative organization that advocates school vouchers.

“I am honored to accept this responsibility to work with the president-elect on his vision to make American education great again,” DeVos said in the statement. “The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”

President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., after a meeting last weekend. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)
President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos after a meeting last weekend in Bedminster, N.J. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

She also chairs the board of directors for the Philanthropy Roundtable and serves on a several other national and local boards, including those of ArtPrize, the American Enterprise Institute, the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the DeVos Institute for Arts Management at the University of Maryland.

BuzzFeed reported that although DeVos “now says she’s opposed to the Common Core, she once advocated for it alongside Jeb Bush.” On the campaign trail, Trump constantly vowed to get rid of the controversial education program.

DeVos graduated from Holland Christian High School in Holland, Mich., and Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

There had been speculation that Trump might tap former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee for the post, but she declared herself out of the running Tuesday.