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On the First Day of Christmas CER Gave to Me…

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A Nominee for Opportunity!


This is the first in a series of blog posts — CER’s 12(ish) Days of Christmas. 

by George Mitchell*doe_part_1_2_web_ta_12-14-16

I can speak from direct experience when explaining why the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education is such a stunning and positive development.  

In the late 1990s the story of school choice was largely a Milwaukee story. The movement was in limbo awaiting a (favorable) 1998 Wisconsin court ruling that upheld religious school choice. A subsequent US Supreme Court decision, drawing heavily on the Wisconsin ruling, set the stage for potential expansion.  

A small group of selfless philanthropists emerged to up to help make it happen. The late John Walton’s untimely death created a void. Up stepped Betsy DeVos, along with her successor as head of the American Federation for Children, Bill Oberndorf.

Meetings and strategies developed under Betsy’s direction were all about focus, focus, focus. If you weren’t zeroed in on the single goal of expanding parental education options you were in the wrong place. She intuitively — almost instinctively — gets the basic point:  all things being equal, more choice is better than less. Giving parents more power and control and responsibility will be her guiding principles. She is indifferent to perks, power, and the embellishments that come with her job. She will be all about results.

What a fantastic Christmas present!

*George Mitchell’s interest in, and commitment to, school choice dates to the 1980s, when he met Howard Fuller and chaired a gubernatorial commission that studied education in Milwaukee. His wife Susan formed a coalition that strengthened the Milwaukee choice program and helped take the issue national.