News Release

DeVos’s Record in Michigan

CNN reports: “DeVos struggles to answer basic questions about schools in her home state.”

Robinson is chair of music education at the Michigan State University College of Music and has written extensively about Betsy DeVos and her history in Michigan. His pieces include “Privatize, Monetize, Weaponize: How the DeVos family devoured Michigan’s schools.” 

He said today: “Every one of Betsy DeVos’ answers on her ’60 Minutes’ interview last night had to do with the magic bullet of ‘school choice’ — but Michigan, her home state, has had ‘Schools of Choice’ legislation for 22 years now, a program that allows parents to send their children to schools outside of their ‘home district.’ While suburban districts have benefited from the influx of students from less affluent, nearby schools [and] city school systems like the Lansing School District, have suffered greatly by comparison.

“There are currently more than 3,000 students who live in Lansing but attend public schools elsewhere in the area, according to state data. To put it in perspective, Lansing lost an average of 460 students each year in the past decade, a decline driven in unequal parts by schools of choice, an influx of charter schools and the simple fact that there are fewer school-aged students in Michigan. While more than 16,000 students roamed the district’s halls in 2004, last year’s enrollment was 11,695. Projected figures from the administration put enrollment below 11,000 by 2020.

“Michigan also leads the nation in the number of for-profit charter schools, another dubious distinction. These schools use public tax dollars to produce profit for privately-controlled charter management companies, hastening the redistribution of funds from public coffers to private pockets.

“And yet, with all of this ‘choice,’ the state of public education in Michigan has not improved. While we should be wary of data derived solely from standardized test scores, the ‘big picture’ view is not encouraging:

“Despite investing heavily in early literacy since 2015, Michigan schools showed the largest decline in third-grade reading levels among 11 comparable states in the last three years, according to a new education report.

“Michigan was at the bottom of the group, behind Delaware, Vermont, Connecticut, Idaho and West Virginia. California, Hawaii and Washington state showed the most improvement on the test in the last three years. Those states use standardized tests similar to Michigan’s.”