It's not just progressives who have been up in arms about the nomination of Betsy DeVos to the post of Secretary of Education. The same network of conservative parent activists that raised an effective fuss over Common Core are exceedingly unpleased about the big-money donor and lobbyist being given the reins for education. The pressure to reject DeVos won't be coming just from the left and it won't be landing on Democratic senators.
The calls started with petitions like this one, calling for Bill Evers or Larry Arnn or Sandra Stotsky as Secretary of Education. And demanding that the new USED Secretary be a warrior against Common Core.
That promised warrior is not, of course, what folks got.
Here's Joy Pullman (The Federalist) at Conservative Review hitting the ground running with the reasons that DeVos is a bad pick.
First and repeatedly foremost in conservative circles is DeVos' deep love of the Common Core. Plenty of people remain unfooled by DeVos' attempted backtrack. DeVos would have been a perfect Secretary of Education pick for Jeb Bush, with whom she has a long history of partnering and contributing to his favorite policies. And as Pullman indicates, the anti-Common-Core parent network could react to DeVos quickly because they already knew her name, having come up against her money and her astro-turfed groups and her political connections in many of the states where the standards battle raged.
Christian conservative mom Jenni White (Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment) parses this quote form the DeVos website:
I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When Governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.
The first sentence contains the insidious, using-buzzwords-to-make-sure-I-get-everyone-from-every-ed-camp-into-mine, rhetorical nonsense. You simply can't have "high standards" and "strong accountability" at the federal level and get LOCAL CONTROL. You just can't. That sentence alone should be deadly in the confirmation hearings for Mrs. DeVos.
That and guys like Mike Huckabee are not exactly hard critics of the Core.
White's raising of the local control issue is also a repeated conservative theme. I have waited for decades to see more conservatives get this-- you cannot have government money without government strings, and vouchers stand to be the gold-covered trojan horse that brings government regulation to private and religious schools across this country. Here's how White puts it:
The term "school choice" - like the term "education reform" - means something different to everyone, but usually encompasses the idea that a benevolent federal dictatorship should 'allow' parents to move from one education facility to another (charter schools), hopefully dragging along public money (vouchers), in order to provide their children with a better education than that offered by their failing district school.
The local control issue goes hand in hand with the issue of purchased policy. DeVos is right in there with guys like Bill Gates and Jeb Bush in using her personal fortune to do an end run around the democratic process-- in particular to turn education into a worker training program for their particular private concerns.
Then there is the whole attitude issue. Sandra Stotsky herself bemoans the lack of parent voices in the ongoing discussions about education. And here's Pullman again:
The DeVos family are part of the new-money ruling elite who look down their noses at “rubes” like Heather Crossin [Hoosiers Against Common Core], who do things like oppose Common Core and vote for Donald Trump. These are not the kind of people to whom Trump promised Americans he’d delegate our power.
Indeed, conservatives, like progressives, can recognize the problem with DeVos's utter lack of public school experience.
Bottom line: Senators should be hearing objections to DeVos from across the perspective, and when you are calling your senator (there is no if-- you should be doing it, and soon, and often), you can take into account what sort of Senator you are calling. Your GOP senator needs to hear that DeVos's nomination breaks Trump's promise to attack Common Core and to get local control back to school districts. Your GOP senator needs to hear that you are not fooled by DeVos's attempt to pretend she's not a long-time Common Core supporter.
As was the case back in the days when Common Core was being shoved down our collective throats, the DeVos nomination can bring together folks with different agendas (Pullman, for instance, would like the Department of Education to go away entirely). It's rare that Presidential cabinet picks are axed, but we've been saying lots of "it's rare..." sentences lately, and with the Democrats planning to make hearings challenging for DeVos and seven other proposed Trumpistan mini-czars, at a very minimum, the new administration could be forced to burn some political capital to get their choice in office. Who knows-- conservative anti-Common Core moms were under-estimated before.