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Trump picks charter school advocate Betsy DeVos to be education secretary

FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2016 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos pose for photographs at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J. Trump has chosen charter school advocate DeVos as Education Secretary in his administration. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

President-elect Donald Trump has selected a charter school advocate and GOP donor from Michigan to be education secretary.

Betsy DeVos becomes the second woman chosen to fill a spot in Trump's Cabinet. Earlier Wednesday, Trump named South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations earlier in the day.

Both selections require Senate confirmation.


Trump called DeVos "a brilliant and passionate education advocate" in a Wednesday statement.

"Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families," the incoming president said.

DeVos, from Michigan, is a longtime advocate for charter schools and school vouchers. She leads the advocacy group, American Federation for Children.

"The status quo in education is not acceptable," she said in a statement Wednesday. "Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential."


The DeVos family has been active in Republican politics for decades, especially as donors to GOP candidates and the Republican Party. DeVos' husband, Dick, is an heir to the Amway fortune and a former president of the company.

The couple gave $22.5 million to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington in 2010, at the time the largest private donation in the center's history.

Hours before the DeVos pick was announced, conservative policy leader Frank Cannon, president of American Principles Project, called her "an establishment, pro-Common Core secretary of education."

"This would not qualify as 'draining the swamp,'" Cannon said, referencing Trump's campaign trail slogan. "And it seems to fly in the face of what Trump has stated on education policy up to this point."

DeVos, like Haley, was slow to warm to Trump.

She told The Associated Press in July, "A lot of the things he has said are very off-putting and concerning."

Trump is spending Thanksgiving with his family at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

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