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Betsy DeVos' nomination to Trump's cabinet draws mixed reactions

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Posted at 7:12 AM, Nov 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-24 07:12:56-05

When President-elect Donald Trump announced he had selected Betsy DeVos to serve as his Secretary of Education, the reaction was quick and divided.

People like Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Representative Tim Walberg all praised the choice.

Teacher's unions and Democrats, not so much.

DeVos has championed charter schools and vouchers, which allow people to have more choice in where they send their children.

Trump lauded that in a statement, saying “Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate. 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.”

But the American Federation of Teachers says that's a dangerous idea.

"They've long touted this idea of choice, which at face value sounds positive," Julie Rowe, legislative director of AFT Michigan said.

"Competition works in the private sector, but it creates a system of winners and losers and we cannot have losers when they are children, when there are students, when it's the future of our state."

She says educators are outraged by the selection.

"This is an affront to educators who have dedicated their lives and their careers to teaching students," Rowe said. "This is a person who has no experience in a classroom, who didn't even attend public school or send any of her children to public schools."

Governor Rick Snyder issued a statement complimenting Trump on his choice and saying, "Michiganders know the passion Betsy has for reforming education in a way that puts kids first. Betsy’s appointment will mean great things for Michigan and for children around the nation as she takes her no-nonsense commitment to empowering parents to the highest levels in Washington. I am also very pleased to see President-elect Trump has selected my fellow Governor, Nikki Haley, to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She has been an excellent Governor and I wish her luck in her new role."

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette echoed that idea and said in a statement, "Betsy DeVos is a tremendous choice for Secretary of Education. Her commitment to education options and choices for parents and their children is top shelf. Her appointment is a ray of hope for providing educational opportunity for America's children."

Progress Michigan says it's worried about what DeVos will do in the position, but says it will do what it can to make sure that does not hurt Michigan's schools.

"Hold charter schools accountable, hold the DeVos family accountable, and our elected officials both here in Lansing as well as Washington and I think we'll just have to continue to do that," Sam Inglot, communications director for Progress Michigan, said.

DeVos leads the American Federation for children, which promotes charter school education.