Trump taps Haley for U.N. post, DeVos for education secretary
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and prominent charter school advocate Betsy DeVos as his secretary of education, the first women selected for toplevel administration posts in his new administration.
Both Cabinet-level positions require Senate confirmation.
While some cheered Haley’s selection, despite her limited experience on the international stage, the DeVos choice faced criticism even before it was formally announced Wednesday. Conservatives warned that DeVos, a longtime Republican donor, previously supported the Common Core education standards that Trump railed against during the campaign.
Trump, who was at his Palm Beach estate Wednesday for the Thanksgiving holiday, called DeVos “a brilliant and passionate education advocate.”
Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, is the only minority member chosen by Trump so far. Retired neurosurgeon and Trump loyalist, Ben Carson, an African-American, has been offered the job of secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to a person familiar with the offer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly.
Carson has not yet accepted the offer, but he tweeted on Wednesday that “an announcement is forthcoming about my role in helping to make America great again.”
Trump said that Haley, his UN choice, “has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country.”
“She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals,” he said in a statement. “She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”
DeVos, from Michigan, is a longtime advocate for charter schools and school vouchers. She currently leads the advocacy group, American Federation for Children, and sits on the board of the Jeb Bush-led Foundation for Excellence in Education.
“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,” Trump said.
DeVos said in her own statement, “The status quo in education is not acceptable.”
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.”
Asked about DeVos’ support for the Common Core standards, Trump spokesman Jason Miller noted that “the president-elect has been consistent and very clear in his opposition to Common Core.”
“Anybody joining the administration is signing on to the president-elect’s platform and vision for moving America forward,” Miller said.