Besty DeVos, Billionaire Christian Philanthropist, To Head Education For Donald Trump

Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence with Betsy DeVos at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.Reuters

Donald Trump has chosen an influential conservative Christian woman who is a highly respected billionaire and philanthropist as his Education Secretary.

He is to nominate Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the United States Department of Education.

Trump pledged that her appointment will "break the bureaucracy" that is holding children back and guarantee choice for all young people.

The announcement was made on the Presidential transition team website which described her as a "highly successful education advocate, businesswoman, and philanthropist". 

DeVos is a former chairman of the Republican Party in Michigan and a passionate advocate of the school voucher scheme, which allows parents to use publicly-funded vouchers to pay for education at a private school of their choice, including religious schools. 

She is chairman of the technology and clean energy Windquest Group which she founded with her husband in 1989.

Trump said: "Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate. Under her leadership we will reform the US 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. I am pleased to nominate Betsy as Secretary of the Department of Education."

DeVos said: "I am honored to accept this responsibility to work with the President-Elect on his vision to make American education great again. The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential."

DeVos, from Michigan, is chairman of the American Federation for Children whose mission is to "improve our nation's K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children." She has also served on national and local charitable and civic boards, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, American Enterprise Institute, The Philanthropy Roundtable, Kids Hope USA and has been a member and elder at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, formerly led by prominent Christian author and speaker Rob Bell.

The Washington Post said she is "hardly a household name" but has quietly helped change the education landscape in many states, spending millions of dollars expanding the school voucher programs to give families access to private and religious schools.

The Post reports: "Trump's pick has intensified what already was a polarized debate about school choice. Advocates for such choice see in the Trump administration an extraordinary opportunity to advance their cause on a national scale, whereas teachers unions and many Democrats fear an unprecedented and catastrophic attack on public schools, which they see as one of the nation's bedrock civic institutions."

Former president of Fuller Seminary Rich Mouw told the Washington Post he had served on a committee with DeVos to replace Bell, and said DeVos is heavily influenced by Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch writer and Calvinist theologian.

He said: "I wouldn't consider her to be right wing. She's a classic free-enterprise conservative. She takes public life, art and politics very seriously."

Tennesseee Sentator Lamar Alexander tweeted that she was an "excellent choice":

Speaker Paul Ryna said he was "thrilled" by the choice of DeVos and also of his friend Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the UN: