Under the Dome

Spellings defends DeVos for education secretary

Margaret Spellings, president of the UNC system.
Margaret Spellings, president of the UNC system. News & Observer file photo

UNC President Margaret Spellings appeared on CBS This Morning Wednesday to defend Betsy DeVos as President Donald Trump’s nominee as education secretary.

Spellings, who served as education secretary under former President George W. Bush, said she advised DeVos, the billionaire philanthropist, businesswoman and political donor from Michigan. Trump’s choice has been controversial because DeVos has no experience in public schools and has been a proponent of charter schools and voucher programs. She was also criticized for some of her answers during a Senate hearing.

“This is the era of the states and I expect that she’ll be an honest broker and a great leader for all of our schools,” Spellings said of DeVos, whose nomination will go to the full Senate after Tuesday’s approval by a Senate committee.

Spellings said DeVos had a “student-centered” approach focused on opportunity for students, whether that’s in private, traditional public schools or charter schools. She expects DeVos, if confirmed, to pursue a deregulation agenda from Washington.

“I’ve advised her to get out about the country and learn and listen,” Spellings said of her counsel to DeVos.

The Washington Post reported that DeVos’ questionnaire to the Senate education committee contained answers that appeared to have been plagiarized, but Spellings said that was “a silly gotcha” and “a red herring.”

At the end of the interview Spellings bet TV host Charlie Rose, a Duke graduate, $100 on the Carolina-Duke game next month.