Betsy DeVos Confirmation Leaves Southern Baptists Hopeful for Schools

With the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, some Southern Baptists hope that emphases at the Department of Education will parallel themes expressed in Southern Baptist Convention resolutions on education.

DeVos, a Michigan businesswoman long active in conservative politics, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Feb. 7 by a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. Her confirmation marked the first time a vice president has been called upon to break a tie regarding a cabinet nomination.

Much of the opposition to DeVos, according to media reports, stemmed from her support of educational choice, including charter schools and school vouchers. The New York Times noted that neither DeVos nor any of her four children attended public schools though she is now charged with guiding America’s public education system.

DeVos also has drawn criticism for supporting pro-family organizations like Focus on the Family and the Acton Institute for the Study of Religious Liberty and having ties to critics of Darwinian evolution.

Some of DeVos’ policy views appear to align with sentiments expressed in Southern Baptist Convention resolutions on education adopted in 2014 and 2006.

David Dykes, chairman of the 2014 SBC Resolutions Committee, said he could not comment specifically on DeVos but noted he is “very encouraged by President Trump’s choice of people [for cabinet posts] who are outside the circle of politicians and the status quo for these positions. I think he really wants to shake things up, and I’m in favor of doing that.”

The 2014 SBC resolution “on the importance of Christ-centered education” encouraged lawmakers “to enact policies and legislation that maximize parental choice and best serve the educational needs and desires of families.”

When the resolution was adopted, Dykes, pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, told reporters he did not interpret the statement’s language to support vouchers for Christian schools. The committee, he said, intentionally used “ambiguous language.”

Dykes said the 2014 Resolutions Committee sought to reflect the general sentiments of Southern Baptists by endorsing “both private Christian education [and] public education as well.”

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SOURCE: David Roach 
Baptist Press