President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday said he will nominate the Michigan philanthropist and prominent Republican donor Betsy DeVos to be U.S. education secretary. The announcement signals that big changes could be on the way for schools and students around the country. Here are five things to know:
1. DeVos will push for school choice.
DeVos has been a vocal supporter of school choice, which is something Trump backed on the campaign trail. DeVos, who heads up the pro-charter and pro-school-voucher nonprofit American Federation for Children, has said parents should have the ability to choose the best schools for their children, whether they are traditional public schools, charters, or private schools. Trump has proposed creating a $20 billion federal voucher program for families to use to send their kids to the school of their choice. But, as Education Week noted recently, making that program a reality could be difficult. It’s unclear exactly where the funding would come from, and even if Congress did manage to pass such a proposal, some states currently prohibit funds from going to schools with religious affiliations, which could complicate how those funds are used.
2. Critics of the Common Core standards may have reason to worry.
While Trump repeatedly assailed the set of standards used in most states across the country, DeVos has been less clear about her stance on them. She also served on the board of the former Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which supported the controversial standards. And Trump’s transition team reportedly discussed the idea of “higher national standards” with DeVos. Trump’s campaign pledge to repeal the standards isn’t actually realistic because they are not a federal mandate. It’s possible that DeVos and the administration might support similar standards while avoiding the politically toxic Common Core nomenclature.