Monday, December 5, 2016

For More About Betsy DeVos' Priorities, Follow the Money

Posted By on Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 5:13 PM

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Betsy DeVos, Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, and her husband Dick devote a chunk of their $6 billion fortune to funding the political campaigns of candidates who are for more charters, private school vouchers and the rest of the privatization/"education reform" agenda. The couple also has a family foundation which contributed more than $10 million in 2015. Politico looked over a copy of the Foundation's 2015 tax forms and listed some of the recipients. The money makes Betsy DeVos's priorities clear. She likes school choice in its many forms and has a soft spot for religious organizations. Here are some highlights from the Politco list.

The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation is a primary funder of a reasonably recent news-format education website, The 74, begun by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, which is pro-privatization/"education reform" and pro-DeVos. The Foundation gave $400,000 to the website and another $400,000 to Brown's nonprofit, The Partnership for Educational Justice.

New York's Success Academies, a chain of charter schools, got $150,000. Success's founder, Eva Moskowitz, was being talked about as a possible Secretary of Education pick until she took herself out of the running. (Word has it she's angling for the New York City mayor job.)

The American Enterprise Institute is a major voice of the conservative movement. It received $750,000.

The School of Missionary Aviation Technology (Goal: "to equip men and women to serve God in mission aviation") received $250,000.

The Grand Rapids Christian School Association received $350,000.

That only totals a bit over $2 million. Other donations are listed, including some which aren't directly related to education. Politico's complete list which includes "a number of Christian ministries, churches and pro-life groups" is on Politico Pro, which is subscription only, and I don't have a subscription.

A DeVos-Money-Is-Small-Potatoes Note: If Ms. DeVos wasn't Trump's Ed Sec pick, the education donations of her foundation would hardly rate a mention. Ten million dollars? That's chump change compared to what the Walton Foundation, funded by the Walmart fortune, gives away in support of a similar agenda. The Walton folks put up in the neighborhood of $200 million a year, 20 times the multi-million-dollar pittance Betsy and her husband provide.

Some deep, deep pockets are funding the push to discredit and dismantle our traditional public education system and replace it with private, often-for-profit schools.

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