She’s a grandmother of five who has volunteered her time mentoring at-risk children in the Michigan schools. She and her husband founded a school that serves a student population that is 40 percent minority, and has overcome all odds to become one of Michigan’s best high schools with one of the state’s highest graduation rates. She is a woman whose tireless leadership has driven an important debate over the future of K-12 policy in America.
Betsy DeVos and I have a lot in common. We are both former Chairmen of Republican State Committees. We’re both mothers. We’re both grandmothers. And it is because I am a mother, and a grandmother, that I support Betsy DeVos. By any objective measure, Betsy DeVos is one of the most accomplished and successful education reformers in our nation. She is an inspired choice to lead the Department of Education. Her commitment to the education of all children, especially at-risk children, is genuine and runs deep.
DeVos believes passionately that all children deserve access to great schools regardless of their race, income or zip codes. Her critics on the left chastise her for what they perceive to be a lack of commitment to public schools. Not only is this an unfounded criticism, it is shamelessly political in nature, as DeVos’ biggest opponents in the senate are the very same Democrats whose campaigns are funded by the teachers’ unions that are doing everything they can to derail her confirmation.
In reality, the education reform successes resulting from Mrs. DeVos’ advocacy have helped hundreds of thousands of students across America gain access to better schools. While the union bosses have mercilessly fought to keep economically disadvantaged students trapped in dangerous and ineffective schools, Mrs. DeVos has had the courage to fight back, arguing with passion that it is immoral to continue an education system that relegates poor and minority children to second class status. The children of the rich and powerful are not the only children who deserve access to great schools. Betsy DeVos has fought to ensure that underprivileged kids are not forgotten by our education system.
Further, she is a trusted reformer who understands that educating children in rural communities is far different than the challenges facing educators in big cities. One-size-fits all federal mandates and costly red tape are counterproductive to driving gains in student achievement. Rather than micromanaging education policy from the top-down in Washington, D.C., Betsy DeVos will return money and authority over our K-12 schools back to the states so we can work with our state legislatures and local school boards to craft innovative reforms that respond to the unique needs of our children and schools.
It is clear that Mrs. DeVos has the courage of her convictions. She holds the high ground in this debate over education reform and will never shy away from the important fight to empower parents with greater choices and control over their kids’ education. The U.S. Senate should ignore the dishonest smear campaign against Mrs. DeVos and put the interests of school children above the demands of the union bosses who have created the education mess in America. Betsy DeVos will be a great secretary of education and she deserves to be confirmed.
Jennifer Horn is a former Chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee