How Betsy DeVos could impact education in Florida

Susan Smith education schools progressive, critic of Betsy DeVos
Susan Smith. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (Apr. 2015).

Donald Trump is filling out his cabinet and has nominated billionaire conservative Betsy DeVos for education secretary; our guest on MidPoint is an advocate for public education, Susan Smith, the president of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida.

Listen to the full show here (the video is below) …

If the DeVos name sounds familiar, it’s one of the most important funders of conservative politicians and issues. Betsy DeVos’ father in law founded Amway and owns the Orlando Magic. Her brother Erik Prince formed the private mercenary military units once known as Blackwater.

According to the AP, “Some conservatives are concerned that Donald Trump again seems to be going against some of the positions he took during the campaign. … In the past she has supported the Common Core education standards that Trump denounced as he campaigned. A Trump [spokesperson] says Trump has been ‘consistent and very clear in his opposition to Common Core’ – and that anyone joining the administration is ‘signing on to the president-elect’s platform.”

Betsy DeVos sits on the board of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. There have always been standardized testing in schools, but during that time, when Jeb Bush was governor and he began the FCAT everything seemed to tick up a notch. Now conservatives are upset at Common Core and at too much testing, but their origin is really that obsession of “accountability” that accelerated under Jeb Bush.

The Intercept reporter Lee Fang posted on Twitter a photo of an ad funded in part by Betsy DeVos. It’s a “Wanted” poster with the face of Democratic Florida Attorney General Candidate Dan Gelber. It says Wanted “for crimes against Jewish education … voting ‘no’ on funding for Jewish school.” Fang calls DeVos a Christian right activist who funded the ad against a Jewish politician for opposing her school agenda. This attack is because Gelber didn’t want public funds funneled away from public schools & into private religious schools.

Fang also Tweeted that Betsy “DeVos’ brother Erik Prince donated to Trump’s Super PAC, other family members donated over quarter mil to Trump joint fundraising committee.”

Trump has pledged $20 billion in federal funds for students to whichever school they pick.

We also talked about the upcoming recounts in three close northern states. Donald Trump tweeted Sunday: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”

Note, at the time of this program, police were reporting that people had been shot at The Ohio State University. It turned out that police had shot and killed an attacker wielding a knife.

During the show Amway came up; it’s a multi-level marketing company started by Devos’ father-in-law and run by Devos’ husband.


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