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The DeVos Connection

These candidates support Betsy Devos' privatization agenda.
Published: August 22, 2018
First Appeared In NEA Today August 2018
Betsy DeVos
Betsy DeVos Credit: Associated Press

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a long-time proponent of vouchers and other vehicles that drain critical funding for public schools and send it to an array of unaccountable private entities.

Congress dealt a blow to her agenda when it refused to fund her priorities in the spending bill that passed in March.

But there are at least half a dozen front-runners in governor races across the country who support her anti-public schools agenda.


Arizona: Doug Ducey

During his first term, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey took a page out of the DeVos privatization handbook. He enacted a state-wide voucher program he later expanded. Ducey, who received a donation from the DeVos family during his first run for office, has also welcomed privately managed, unaccountable charter schools. He has his sights set on re-election to save his signature voucher program, which was put on hold last year and will appear on the ballot this November.

Michigan: Bill Schuette

State Attorney General Bill Schuette, a front-runner in the race for governor, fully supports the elusive goal DeVos doggedly pursued in Michigan: state- funded vouchers. Schuette praised DeVos’s nomination for education secretary in an edito- rial, saying President Donald Trump “has chosen wisely.” The DeVos family and its organizations contributed at least $136,000 to Schuette’s campaigns between 2009 and 2014.

Nevada: Adam Laxalt

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a rising star in national conservative circles, is expected to revive the state’s education savings accounts program if elected governor. He wants to use public funds for income- based private school vouchers, and divert money from public schools. “I am proud of the work my office did defending Education Savings Accounts all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court,” said Laxalt in an interview with the Nevada Independent. He also wants more publicly-funded charter schools.

Pennsylvania: Scott Wagner

Scott Wagner, the Republican nominee for governor, is a strident critic of public schools. He supports bringing DeVos’s education agenda to Pennsylvania with a statewide voucher plan. In addition, Wagner wants to eliminate educator benefits, including sick days and pensions. He has even called on retired educators to give back 10 percent of the retirement benefits they have earned.

Wisconsin: Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker has led the charge to expand a private voucher school industry that takes millions of tax dollars out of public schools. He has proposed removing all caps from the state voucher program, allowing the unlimited expansion of unaccountable voucher schools. Shortly after taking the oath of office in 2011, Walker stripped educators’ collective bargaining rights and slashed funding for K–12 education by $792 million— the biggest cut to education in Wisconsin’s history. Voucher advocates have donated nearly $2 million to Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns since 2008.

Illinois: Bruce Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed an education funding bill in January. He refused to fund public schools until private schools could get more taxpayer money, too. In 2015, he pushed the state into a two-year budget impasse—the longest in U.S. history. More than $1 billion was not paid out to school districts, and public colleges and universities announced layoffs.

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