Major GOP donor and Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos’ confirmation Tuesday as secretary of education could lead to billions of taxpayer dollars being redirected from public education funding.
DeVos, who is worth $5.1 billion, now joins Pres. Donald Trump’s wealthy cabinet and team of advisors.
The 59-year-old was confirmed after Vice Pres. Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie, which was made up of “no” votes from 48 Senate democrats and two republicans.
The Michigan billionaire faced unprecedented opposition at her Senate confirmation hearings with democrats zeroing in on DeVos’ lack of public education experience.
Devos has spent several decades promoting loosely regulated charter schools and the use of taxpayer-funded vouchers for use at private schools.
Here are three ways funding for public education could be affected:
- President Trump has promised to redirect $20 billion in federal funds to help fund charter schools and school voucher programs. However, the money will need to be approved by Congress.
- Some experts speculate that with DeVos as education secretary, the Trump administration may seek to overhaul President Obama’s Race to the Top program. The program ushered in the nationwide use of Common Core education standards, which potentially rewards schools with increased federal funding.
- Many GOP party members hope that DeVos will help them redirect $15 billion in Title I funds, which is currently funneled to education for low-income students. Supporters want the federal money to be used for students at their choice of schools — including charter and private institutions.
The U.S. Department of Education was established in 1979 and nominees have historically been easily confirmed, often without major opposition.