January 5, 2017

Martinez praises Trump’s selection for Secretary of Education

Andy Lyman

Gov. Susana Martinez likes Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education.

Martinez wrote an op-ed in Investor’s Business Daily in which she praised the president-elect’s selection of the Michigan billionaire to head the federal department that oversees education.

“She has extensive experience and an unquestionable commitment to our children. For nearly three decades, she has been on the front lines in dozens of state capitals, working with parents to promote school choice and accountability in the classroom,” Martinez wrote. “As our secretary of education, she’s going to continue that fight.”

Martinez also wrote that DeVos could help move toward “local control and school choice.”

DeVos is a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and led the American Federation for Children, an organization that advocates for school choice.

DeVos is one of six cabinet-level secretaries set for confirmation hearings on Jan. 11.

DeVos is also a major donor to Republicans and conservative groups, and is described by the New Yorker as being “from the very heart of the small circle of conservative billionaires who have long funded the Republican Party.”

DeVos donated $1,000 to Martinez in 2014, on the same date that seven other people sharing her last name donated $12,000 to Martinez. All listed the address of RDV Corporation, a company of which Betsy DeVos is listed as title director.

Teachers unions slammed DeVos’ selection when Trump announced it last November.

“DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools. The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement at the time. “Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation.”

National Education Association President Eskelen García also spoke out about the selection.

“She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education,” García said. “By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.”

How much impact DeVos will have on individual states is debatable.

Legislative Education Study Committee chairman and state Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, wrote in the December LESC newsletter that “the role of the federal government in public education has historically been limited to providing it funding and guidance on how states and local school districts ensure that underserved student populations receive equitable learning opportunities.”

Later in the letter, he continued, “While Ms. DeVos is likely to become the next Secretary of Education, she will have as much influence over classrooms in Clayton, Lordsburg, Jal, and Aztec as Secretary [John] King or Secretary [Arnie] Duncan did before her—very little.”

Martinez may soon praise another possible Trump selection when it comes to education—a report from December said her Public Education Department secretary Hanna Skandera was under consideration for a position in the Trump administration.