Donald Trump's Secretary of Education pick has been concerning to many Democrats. But what Betsy DeVos said about education in 2001 is incredibly frightening, no matter what side of the aisle you're on.
POLITICO received audio recordings from a 2001 meeting of "The Gathering," which is an annual conference where the wealthiest Christians in the country get together to discuss policy. DeVos and her husband, Dick, were there talking about how their education reform efforts all originate in their Christian faith. Not in nice way, though. They're not just trying to provide for everyone or something benign like that; instead, DeVos' aim is to "advance God's Kingdom." Her support of school choice is actually her strategy for "greater Kingdom gain."
Do you have alarm bells going off yet? Perhaps those tied to the issue of separation of church and state? This is really all well and good for DeVos to pursue in her private life — or even to chase by donating loads of money to her chosen political groups. But to support this same strategy as a public figure, and specifically as the public figure at the head of public education? Yeah, that's chilling.
Maybe you're willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It was only one meeting, after all. Maybe she was just caught up in the atmosphere, or she wanted to impress all of the other wealthy Christians there. I can't let you hold on to that optimism, though, because she also has a long record of supporting right-wing Christian groups, including ones like the Foundation for Traditional Values. This organization seems to understand the Establishment Clause — the section of the First Amendment that protects the separation of church and state — as a misunderstood and meaningless aberration in what the founders really wanted for America. Don't like prayer in schools? Then you definitely don't like these guys.
If you're one of the 29.4 percent of Americans who don't identify as Christian, this is a worrying moment, to put it lightly. A woman whose stated goal is to "confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help advance God’s Kingdom, but not to stay in our own faith territory" (yes, that is what she actually said) could soon take leadership over the nation's schools.
Like anyone in a high-up government position, DeVos would certainly be bound by laws and bureaucracy and therefore unable to achieve all of her goals. However, with this as her background, I'm not really interested in seeing what she is actually able to accomplish.