President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, answered questions during a sometimes fiery Senate committee hearing Tuesday. DeVos has been criticized by Democrats and teachers’ unions for her support of school choice, vouchers and charter schools.
DeVos and her husband, David, are billionaires who have invested heavily in charter school advocacy in their home state of Michigan. Some critics have viewed that as an attempt to “privatize” public schools.
Gov. Nathan Deal, who is expected to announce a new plan soon to help the state’s lowest performing schools, agrees with DeVos when it comes to choice. Deal has said his plan may include letting students transfer out of struggling schools. Deal said DeVos is an advocate for education reform.
“Sometimes, there’s always controversy as to what reforms you want,” he said. “But, to have someone who has devoted so much of her time and her resources to trying to improve the quality of education in this country is a great thing.”
State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods seemed cautiously optimistic about DeVos’s candidacy.
“As far as what I’ve seen thus far, coming out of Washington, I think trying to give us more flexibility at the state level,” Woods said. “I anticipate that will continue, but we’ll take it a day at a time.”
The next step in DeVos' confirmation would be a hearing in front of the full Senate.