WASHINGTON — Donald Trump has selected businesswoman, Michigan Republican and charter school advocate Betsy DeVos to be his secretary of Education.
"Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said in a statement. “Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families."
DeVos, who interviewed with the president-elect on Saturday, said she is "honored" to work with Trump "on his vision to make American education great again."
She added: "The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”
Education groups that oppose charter schools quickly pounced on the DeVos selection, saying her plans would undercut public schools.
“We believe that the chance for the success of a child should not depend on winning a charter lottery, being accepted by a private school, or living in the right ZIP code," said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. "We have, and will continue, to fight for all students to have a great public school in their community and the opportunity to succeed no matter their backgrounds or circumstances."
Republicans and other "school choice" advocates praised the DeVos pick, saying the public education system needs shaking up. Her supporters include Trump Republican primary rival Jeb Bush.
I am honored to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again. The status quo in ed is not acceptable.— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos) November 23, 2016
DeVos has allegiance "to families," Bush said, "particularly those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder, not to an outdated public education model that has failed them from one generation to the next."
The education secretary nominee has long been involved in Republican politics in Michigan, and has chaired the state party. Husband Dick DeVos -- the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos -- was the GOP nominee for governor in 2006, but lost to Democrat Jennifer Granholm.
The DeVos family has been among the top Republican fundraisers in Michigan and have been longtime advocates for vouchers and school choice -- with Betsy DeVos serving as chairman of the American Federation of Children, a group with “a specific focus on school vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs and education savings accounts.”
Betsy DeVos is also sister to Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who founded Blackwater, a private security contractor employed by the U.S. government which was widely criticized for actions in the Iraq War.
Contributing: Todd Spangler