Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday compared opponents of school choice to “flat-earthers.”
DeVos — a prominent fundraiser and advocate for school choice, charter schools and religious schools prior to her nomination to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet — was addressing the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit.
“In order to succeed, education must commit to excellence and innovation to better meet the needs of individual students,” DeVos said. “Defenders of our current system have regularly been resistant to any meaningful change. In resisting, these ‘flat-earthers’ have chilled creativity and stopped American kids from competing at the highest levels.”
DeVos’ address was thin on details. But she mentioned multiple times that reform would occur at the state level. “We won’t accomplish our goals by creating a new federal bureaucracy or by bribing states with their own taxpayers’ money,” she said.
The education secretary added later: “All parents instinctively know that their child should not follow the money – the money should follow their child.”
“If you hear nothing else I say tonight, please hear this,” DeVos said early in the speech, “education should not be a partisan issue.”
Her own history of policy advocacy, though, heavily favored the Republican Party. And she was not subtle about her expectations.
“My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee,” she wrote in Roll Call in 1997, the New Yorker and others noted last year. “I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment.”