So Donald Trump is nominating Betsy DeVos, someone whose political activities I have been following for a very long time, to be the secretary of education. To call this irresponsible is to seriously understate the dangers of putting her in charge of that department.
DeVos is part of two notorious Michigan families. She is the daughter of Elsa Prince, the matriarch of a family that made a fortune in auto parts and has spent much of that money supporting every conceivable right wing cause. Betsy’s brother Erik is the infamous founder of Blackwater and he is both incredibly corrupt and an enthusiastic fan of wars that will help his band of mercenaries make him money (he sold Blackwater a few years ago but is back in business in a number of areas involving private military contracting).
And she married into the DeVos family, co-founders of Amway, the most evil corporation in the known universe. Like the Princes, the DeVoses and Van Andel’s have spent extraordinary amounts of money to support far-right causes, including various forms of Christian dominionism. To be fair, those families have also given vast amounts of money to medical research (Grand Rapids has state-of-the-art hospitals, mostly due to their charity) and other good causes as well. But that is not of much interest when considering her being in the cabinet.
She is, for all intents and purposes, an enemy of public education. She is perhaps the wealthiest and most consistent backer of school vouchers in the country (and her various foundations that work toward that end have been nailed for violating election laws more than once). She is a huge backer of charter schools, which have been mostly a disaster here in Michigan. I’m actually fine with charter schools in the abstract, but they are very often used as a way to use public funds to teach religion. Legally, they are supposed to be held to the same constitutional standards as public schools, but that rarely happens in practice.
She is also a staunch creationist and supports a number of organizations that push for teaching it in public schools. And she’s a huge supporter of Christian right anti-gay hate groups like the Family Research Council. She has supported the Council for National Policy, an innocuous-sounding name for a secretive group that has included numerous people who are real Christian Reconstructionists, including R.J. Rushdoony himself. The group pushes a deeply theocratic agenda, a common thread among many of the organizations she has given big money to.
And she’s been one of the biggest benefactors to the Acton Institute, on whose board she used to sit. I drive by the Acton offices frequently, as it’s literally two blocks from where CFI Michigan meets every two weeks. They have some truly demented views, including recently arguing for doing away with child labor laws.
Betsy DeVos scares the hell out of me in any position of power, as would anyone from either of those families. Putting her in charge of the Department of Education is like making Al Capone the chief of police.