Despite the gaffes, the controversies, the disastrous public appearances and the lack of success in her pet project of expanding private school vouchers nationwide, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos can claim one dubious honor: She's one of the most-tenured members of President Donald Trump's administration.
DeVos was among Trump's first cabinet nominees, named about two weeks after his election and on the same day he nominated Nikki Haley to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Only Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former CIA director and now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were announced before DeVos. And of these four early nominees, only DeVos and Pompeo are still standing--noteworthy in an administration known for its high turnover.
Despite the occasional rumor that she was about to resign, DeVos has hung on. Recent news reports by The Washington Post and the Associated Press have attributed her staying power in part to a combination of Trump's lack of interest in education, keeping her off his radar, and her appeal to Trump's evangelical Christian base of supporters.
Trump "has staffed his administration and surrounded himself with people who have deep roots and street cred in the faith community. Betsy would be at or near the top of that list," Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a member of Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board, recently told The Post.
DeVos has deep ties to the Religious Right, and she's vocal about how her conservative Christian faith influences her work to advance private school vouchers. In January, she told the Presidents' Conference of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, "There is nothing I do that my faith perspective doesn't inform in some way. " And she and her billionaire husband, Richard DeVos Jr., infamously said during a 2001 gathering of conservative Christian philanthropists that their work to funnel public money toward private, religious schools was a way to "advance God's kingdom" and would lead to "greater kingdom gain."
DeVos was a bit of a dark horse when Trump nominated her, but she was no stranger to Americans United and others who advocate for strong, fully funded public schools that welcome and serve all children. She has long been a crusader for private school vouchers, heading up the pro-voucher American Federation for Children and contributing huge sums of her family fortune in an effort to create voucher programs in her home state of Michigan and...