What Has Secretary Betsy DeVos Been Doing? – With Libby Sobic: Have you heard all Betsy DeVos has accomplished since her controversial appointment? Why do angry, irrational attacks continue when the data supports school choice? Tune in to hear why DeVos should be applauded, not demonized for her accomplishments.
Air Date: 05/12/2020
Guest: Libby Sobic
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith and the Culture
You find your way to the intersection of faith and the culture, it’s WallBuilders Live. We appreciate you joining us today. What we mean by the intersection of faith and the culture, is that our faith should influence our positions on everything in the culture. In other words, having a biblical worldview, looking into history and learning from history and studying the Constitution or how the Constitution affects things. All of that kind of mixes in our brain to come up with what our position should be on every issue, on every discussion and it also informs our view of the world. So, we want to have a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective on everything we discuss. So, here at WallBuilders, we’re typically discussing the hot topics of the day, whatever is in the news or whatever is affecting the culture in a big way and we try to look at those three perspectives each time.
We’re here with David Barton. He’s America’s premier historian and our founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton is a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. You can find out more about all three of us at our website, wallbuilderslive.com where we’ve got a lot of programs available to you there in the archives. So, you can go back and look at a lot of different topics from that biblical, historical and constitutional perspective.
You can even get those Good News Friday programs where we just bring a lot of good news to you that has been ignored in the major media, some great things happening out there, even in the midst of the storm. And then you can also enjoy those Foundations of Freedom Thursdays, we get a lot of those available on the website as well. And that’s where we take your questions and we dive into those specific foundational principles that make the nation or society great.
And one of the most important things if you want to have a good society, if you want to have freedom and prosperity and religious liberty and all the things we enjoy in America, if you want a society with those things, you have to have a formula that produces that. And one of the most important parts of a freedom formula is an educated citizenry, people actually knowing their Constitution, knowing that biblical and historical perspective, teaching them how their government works, especially in a nation like America, where we are the government.
The Ultimate Authority
So, if we, the people are the ultimate authority, then we the people have to know our stuff. We got to know our rights. We got to know how the Constitution works. We got to be able to plug into that and do our duty as citizens to, you know, fulfill responsibilities that come with all of the rights. Everybody loves to talk about their rights, and we need to know that, but we also need to know the responsibilities that come with it.
Well, part of that, again, is being educated, actually knowing what’s happening out there with our country, not only knowing how the system works, but what’s happening right now with our leadership. And we tend to have a real vacuum of knowledge about these things. I mean, even just knowing who our elected representatives are, right? Most people don’t know who their State rep is or their Congressman, typically, we know who our governor and the President is. And that’s it. And so, we need to know more about who’s leading our nation and our State and our local government. And then we also need to know a little more about or maybe a lot more about who is surrounding those leaders.
One of the reasons we’re in the COVID crackdowns that we are and the reason government has gotten so out of control is because you have a lot of these advisors and folks around our governors and our local mayors and our leaders and they have a lot of impact and a lot of influence and we don’t know who they are and we don’t know what their worldview is that they’re coming from.
So, one of the things we’d like to do is talk about some of the people at the national and the State level that typically people are not familiar with. And that includes the cabinet level secretaries, the people that are making major decisions for these huge departments of government and very often making policy or at least enforcing policy that Congress has given them the ability to do.
A Report Card
So, when we come back from the break, we’re going to talk about some of these positions and the importance of us knowing who these folks are and kind of give a little bit of a report card, see how they’re actually doing. You can learn more about all of these things by becoming one of our Constitution coaches. Go to constitutioncoach.com today, you need to know your rights and you can learn so much there constitutioncoach.com, either by taking one of our Constitution classes or by being a Constitution coach yourself. We’ll be right back, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Hey, friends, it is not too late to join us for the crash course in history and government for all those folks that are schooling from home. Now, that could mean a lot of things. Schooling from home could mean that you’ve been homeschooling your kids from the beginning or it could mean you’ve been thrust into homeschooling as a result of the COVID crackdowns or it could mean you don’t even have kids at home, but you’re still schooling because we all are still learning every day, right? So really, this program is available for anyone and it’s not too late to join us. Even though we started on May 4, we’re doing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon throughout May and you can join at any time and when you join, you will be able to get the recordings of any of the afternoons that you missed.
A History and Government Course
Remember, this is a live opportunity to learn about history and government to bring those things to life. And we’re going to have special guests every afternoon, people that have been in our “Chasing American Legends” program, people from, I mean, Dr. Alveda King, David Barton, Tim Barton, Brad Stein, all kinds of great folks are going to be joining us, you need to be there as well. Go to patriotacademy.com to sign up today. Patriotacademy.com, it’s not too late and you’ll get recordings of any live afternoons that you missed. Get the crash course in history and government at patriotacademy.com.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Alright, David, Tim, we were talking in the first segment just about the fact that we typically don’t know who these leaders are surrounding our leaders, the cabinet secretaries and the other advisors. And if we don’t know who they are, we don’t know what worldview they’re coming from or what kind of policies that they’re implementing.
Yeah, Rick, a great example of that is even when you look at the cabinet. I mean, you look at the 16 cabinet level kind of folks, the Vice President and the cabinet levels are there and I’m seeing civic tests that are saying, name to cabinet level departments? And people are having trouble naming to cabinet level apartments.
And then if you start throwing around names and I’ll just pull some names out here. If I were to take the name Wilbur Ross, is anybody in America going to know who Wilbur Ross is? Or for that matter, Steve Mnuchin? No. Well, the guy I just named Steve Mnuchin has been the Treasury Secretary all the way since President Trump has been elected. He’s been the guy in charge of economics and so many things that have gone on and nobody knows his name. He’s the chief financial guy. And then you take Wilbur Ross, he’s in charge of commerce and look how business has been growing, manufacturing has been expanding, all the things happening. Who in the world knows who Wilbur Ross is? Or Elaine Chao? She’s been there with Trump from the beginning, from his inauguration and she’s Secretary of Transportation. You take, Sonny Perdue. He’s been there from the inauguration.
That’s only the second name I recognize so far of what you’ve gone through.
What was the first one?
Oh, you did recognize him?
Yeah. These are the only two names that I think I’ve even heard somebody mentioned ever. And certainly, I’ve read these names before because I’ve seen a list of who’s there. But that’s only the second name I’ve ever heard mentioned during his administration.
Well, he’s got six cabinet members that have not been replaced. I mean, they were original guys from his inauguration. From when he first went to office, these guys have been with them. So, we’re talking essentially four years. And not only can most people not name the cabinet departments, they can’t name who’s running those departments and they’ve had a huge impact on our lives. And I threw up Ben Carson and a lot of people know Ben Carson… Yeah, that’s right. And if I throw up Betsy DeVos, some people would know her.
Education. Then here becomes the next question. Okay. What has Betsy DeVos done? Tell me what Betsy DeVos has been responsible for in the last four years?
Well, in this program, I could give you answers…
That’s right. But ask this on the street and see if they even know who Betsy DeVos is or what she’s done. And actually, she has done some really good things in the last few years. And I was really wondering about her when she went in. Because you know from a constitutional standpoint, you’re not even supposed to have a Department of Education. That’s a State issue. That is not a Federal issue.
And if I go back to the time of Reagan, the Department of Education was not instituted until the predecessor of Reagan and that was Jimmy Carter. That’s the first time we had a Federal Department of Education. And so, Reagan had promised to abolish it. Hey, let’s just get rid of that. We don’t need another cabinet level of department. It’s not part of original intent. That’s not the purview of the federal government. That’s the States. And so, he made the mistake of putting Bill Bennett over the Secretary of Education.
Now, not that Bill Bennett is a mistake. But he was so good that nobody wanted to get rid of the Department of Education after him. Because he came out with a, I’ll call it a book. It’s a little mini book, is a report called ‘A Nation at Risk’ and he showed just how bad American education was. It led to all sorts of major education reforms. He was such an articulate spokesman on how bad education was and what it needed to become. That suddenly it seemed like well, we can’t get rid of Bennett, he’s just the only voice of sanity of education that we’ve got and now we’re stuck with a cabinet level of department that really didn’t need to be there.
So, my question about DeVos is, alright, when she comes in, is she going to try to make herself worth her salary in the sense that I got to do a lot of federal stuff to make sure that I’m justified?
And one of the things by the way, even with that, we saw there have been so much growth in federal government in those positions. One of the things under President Obama is there was the statement and really kind of the indication and actions much more beyond the statement. But President Obama said, look, I’ve got a pen and a phone, I can just make things happen. I can do what I want. And you saw different leaders under him doing some crazy things, with Eric Holder. And I mean, you can go down the list of people who were doing crazy things.
And so, you saw the expansion of government, which is even one of the fears when President Trump was first elected. We weren’t sure that he was going to allow himself to be restrained by the Constitution. We thought this was going to grow and be out of control. And so, Betsy DeVos, right, very much from this business background and what her family has done and so there was a lot of reason for concern going, oh my gosh, right, what have we gotten ourselves into? Are they going to look at this and go, how can we make this bigger and better? Well, ultimately, we would argue the way to make it better is to make it smaller, not bigger. And Dad, you’re right, we never would have guessed what Betsy DeVos was going to do or that we would have seen so many positive things from her leadership, which today, as you kind of alluded to earlier, most people have no idea anything she has done.
One of the things she’s done that’s been absolutely surprising, but I’ve been really pleased with, is she’s been trying to get the federal education department out of the State education business. Under President Obama, it was every State is going to do what the federal Department of Education tells you. So, there was no flexibility, no latitude. I mean, Obama’s administration even were telling State schools and school systems how their bathrooms were to be arranged and who could use which bathroom and what gender goes where and here’s what you’re going to do to discipline students, you will discipline them this way. And so, you were trying to have the one size fit all and we in DC are going to tell you in Oklahoma City, in Omaha, Nebraska and Yakima, Washington, we’re going to tell you all what to do.
And so, since she has come in, she has steadily deregulated the school system. Now, there’s a lot of money designated for education. Well, she’s put it out in grants and said, I want you to have flexibility. Just apply for a grant. If you’ve got a good plan, it doesn’t have to be like anybody else’s plan. If it looks like it’s going to work, yeah, we can fund that and help that work. So, what she’s really doing is helping improve innovation, helping fund innovation.
She’s a huge, huge, huge fan of competition between schools and not only at the State level, but just school choice. So there have been so many good things that she’s done. And because of that, because she doesn’t have this federalist mentality of one size fits all, she has really been abused by education bureaucrats and educrats. But she really has done a good job of keeping the federal government out of the State education systems and trying to encourage creativity with the states and your State, be a laboratory experiment and get things right. Don’t do what the Fed says, you do what’s right for your kids. So, it’s been really good.
And we saw an article not long ago that dealt with this review. I saw it on the Hill. Of all places that didn’t expect to see it there. And it was really praising DeVos for what she has done. And so, we thought this would be a really good article to review. Libby Sobic wrote it and with all, let’s have Libby on, talk about it because most people do not know who Betsy DeVos is, much less what she’s been able to accomplish.
Well, stay with us friends, we’ll be right back. Libby Sobic, our special guest, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution, but just felt like, man, the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know, but it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about Constitution either.
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Welcome back WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Libby Sobic is with us from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. First of all, Libby, did I pronounce your name correctly and did I say Wisconsin the right way?
Welcome Libby Sobic
You got my name correctly and Wisconsin, it’s a pretty good attempt.
Pretty good attempt. That’s a nice way of saying. Yeah. Nice try, Texan. Okay, so you had a great article in the Hill on Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education and you know, definitely, demonized greatly by the Left. They can’t stand her because she actually cares about the kids, not just the institution and promotes school choice. And you came to her defense saying, look, this is someone that’s done the job, right?
That’s right. I work for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. We’re a law and policy shop in Wisconsin that really advocates for a variety of principles, including school choice and education reform. We see the benefits of school choice here in Wisconsin as home to the oldest sculpture program in the country. And so, we know that when families are empowered to choose the best school for their child, regardless of income and zip code, that students learn better and have better life outcomes.
You know, I had forgotten that, that I guess in Milwaukee, the city program there, is that the one you’re referring to, is the oldest one?
Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
Yes. So, we’re celebrating 30 years this year for the Milwaukee Parental Choice program. It was put in place by Governor Tommy Thompson in 1990 here in Wisconsin. And you know, as today we have 20,000 students using that program to attend a private school of their choice.
Wow, wow. And so that’s 30 years where you can look at the results, you can see the data. Parents love it, it’s made the schools better, both, you know, in all realms because of the competition. So, like you said, I mean, the oldest one there, you guys know of what you speak?
Absolutely. And that’s why we were so proud to stand with Secretary DeVos since her arrival in DC in 2016. You know, from day one, it’s really been a contentious ride for her. When she was confirmed, she was confirmed with a tiebreaker by Vice President Mike Pence and today she’s one of the longest reigning cabinet members under President Trump. And my peace in the Hill just really focused on the great work that she’s doing while also weathering the storm that the Left continues to push on her.
An Advocate for Minority Students
You mentioned in the article, you know, some of the incidences, one of those at Harvard where they you know, said she had banners, calling her a white supremacist. I mean, this is a lady, her family has been, you know, advocates for helping low income minority students for decades. I mean, they have funded a lot of charities and programs to do exactly that. I mean, they’ve been good stewards, I would argue of the wealth that God has given, both her maiden family and the Prince family and the DeVos family. So, upon what do these students base these banners when she’s trying to give, you know better opportunities to minorities across the country?
Well, I think that she has really been the Left scapegoat for school choice. You know, they are really pushed by the Left and by their public union members who really want to continue the status quo that the public school system is right for everybody. But Secretary DeVos and her more than 30 years of support for school choice has recognized that government doesn’t know best and that we should be empowering families to pick the right school for their child.
And so, protests like Harvard when they called her white supremacist, you know, these are just angry, irrational attacks that are devoid of really any policy discussion and really just focused on name calling, because it’s the best way that they can avoid having a discussion on policy. And we know, school choice advocates know when we talk about policies, the data and the families are on our side because school choice is working.
You know, I’ve wanted this is totally just my hypothesis here. But a lot of the positives that Trump has done as President, I think has had to do with the people that he’s surrounded himself with and been willing to listen to them. When he mentioned school choice in his State of the Union and highlighted it the way that he did, which I can’t recall that being done in a State of the Union like he did, I would think that has to do with Betsy DeVos influencing the administration. Can we guess at that? I mean, do we know if he was pro-school choice before? Or has she been a big part of that?
So, President Trump has been a strong advocate of school choice. His comments on the forgotten child were incredibly powerful at the State of the Union. And I think that he has been clear that education is a really important aspect for anybody to really make their lives better. But Secretary DeVos has been the one on the ground really fighting for this. She worked closely with Senator Cruz to create the education freedom scholarships, a proposal that now President Trump has become a huge proponent of, talking about how this federal tax credit program could give millions of families across the country access to more scholarships to attend a school of their choice. And so, I think that we are very fortunate to have both Secretary DeVos and President Trump be such strong advocates for these proposals.
Libby, that was such a good answer. You would think you had been through Patriot Academy or one of our trainings. You kept Trump’s positives there and you still gave divorce credit well done.
I 100% agree with you, so that I mean I love it. And I got to tell you, I can’t remember if I remember ever cried in a State of the Union. But when he gave the deal to Russia, he did. And then when that little gal and he talked about the school choice and the opportunities that it would give, same, same.
There is such a powerful, powerful issue. There’s so many kids missing out right now, because they only are given the one choice of the school down the street where they got to fight off guns and gangs. School choice is such a huge issue and an important issue. And I pinched myself when I realized we got a guy in the White House that’s pushing for it, that DeVos who I’ve known for years pushing for these things. It’s a great time to be an American. I’m just praying that they’re able to push it through at a bigger national level. What would you like to see happen in this last year, but also if he’s reelected and she’s willing to stay on, what would you like to see happen on the education front for school choice?
Well, one of the things that Betsy DeVos has been so great on is really deregulating some of these restrictive regulations that have made it hard for states and local schools to make decisions, things like on school discipline, which you think that would be a local control decision, but the Obama era mandates really actually made that a federal decision. And so, there are a lot of examples that Secretary DeVos could continue to lift those sorts of mandates for our local schools so that they can have more flexibility.
Public Charter Schools
I also think that we can continue to do more to support public charter schools. The Federal charter school grants are incredibly powerful. Here in Wisconsin, several of our high performing public charter schools have received those grants to both expand and start new campuses. And so, I’m really hopeful that Secretary DeVos can continue to help public charter schools grow across the country and then also work with our local governments and states to be more flexible with how they sort of are living within these mandates. Here in Wisconsin with Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat who’s not a fan of school choice, we really have to look to our local control to be innovative with education, because he is not interested in school choice programs. And so, the more options we can give to local control, the better.
That’s good, okay. Alright. That’s a good outline of what’s coming ahead and what we need to be fighting for. It’s going to be a very interesting year. I appreciate you putting the article out there. I appreciate you coming on and visiting with us about it. We’re going to have a link today to this article. You can go to the Hill.com and find it, but we’ll make an easy link directly to the article, ‘DeVos should be applauded, not demonized for her work in education’. Libby, thanks for doing the article and thanks for spending a few minutes with us here on WallBuilders Live.
Thank you very much.
Thanks to Libby Sobic for joining us today. We’re back with David and Tim Barton. Guys, I mean frankly, a lot to learn there about Betsy DeVos and it sounds like actually doing a fantastic job.
Yeah, Rick, I’ll jump in on this one. One of the things that we have argued on this program for years, I thought Libby did a great job pointing out that Betsy DeVos has been a champion of the school choice, that it empowers parents. And, you know, we, kind of guys alluded to this going into the interview, is that we really weren’t sure what kind of results we were going to get from Betsy DeVos. And one of the areas we’ve been pleasantly surprised, was her support for school choice.
And, you know, certainly growing up, go into Christian school, private school, you know, doing homeschool stuff, we’ve kind of been in that game. And we recognize that even though there’s some great people in public school system, there’s a lot of broken and failed public schools. And the way that you improve something is through competition and school choice allows competition to make things get better.
Obviously, there’s a lot of arguments against it. We don’t have to spend the rest of the show talking about the reason that school choice can be a good thing and the reason the free market and capitalism are good things, although that’s probably worth talking about at some point. But it’s interesting that Betsy DeVos has remained a very steady, consistent person in spite of the negative attacks. Because generally, if you hear the name Betsy DeVos in the news, it’s about how she’s done something bad and she’s a bad person and she’s terrible and she, you know, almost a little bit like President Trump, she was in a position in life. She doesn’t need to come do something where she’s going to take all kinds of heat, this is not a defining moment for her in her life and her career.
An Honest Discussion
But you know, I thought Libby said something, because you’re right, Tim, she’s getting attacked and she’s doing nothing, but good stuff and helping kids. And so, she’s taking a beating for that, but I thought Libby made a great point. And I guess I’ve thought of it before, but I thought she said it really well, when she said, you know, name calling is a great way to avoid having a substantive discussion.
You don’t have to prove your beliefs. You don’t have to prove your points or having objective measure, we just call you names and that’s what they’re doing Betsy, which keeps them from having to have a discussion of why aren’t you letting kids have a choice. And Rick, you even used a phrase that caught my attention. You said, you know, many kids are only given one choice for education. When you said that I thought, if you only have one choice, is it really a choice? I mean, if you get no other option…
That sounds like a trick from parents.
Like, no kid, I’m giving you a choice, eat all your vegetables or get a beating. Like that’s not a choice. What are you talking about?
So, the whole idea of what Betsy DeVos had done, it’s just amazing.
Consistent in Spite of Attacks
And right, well, Libby pointed out and what we see in Betsy DeVos, is how consistent she’s been in spite of these attacks. And she’s someone who’s remained the course. In the midst of the Trump administration, you know, it’s got to be hard working in that administration when there’s so much drama, there’s so much noise, there’s so much media coverage, there’s so much slander.
And you know, Trump sometimes isn’t always very strategic in a political sense of sometimes what he says, it’s a little volatile in the workplace at times. So, this is not easy for her and to me, right, the fact that Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos and some of these people are still there, it speaks a lot to I think their character, their integrity, their stamina, that they’re consistent in the midst of this and especially considering how many attacks they have to put up with and deal with, just really impressive what she’s accomplished.
Just another one of those areas that we’re so thankful for the reprieve God has given us and a lot of the leaders that we have right now and frankly, the changes that have been made at the federal level because of President Trump’s appointments and just great to be able to learn those things and have that discussion here today as well. There’s more at our website wallbuilderslive.com and it’s also a great place where you can make a difference. And an easy way to make a difference is making a contribution.
What Has Secretary Betsy DeVos Been Doing? – With Libby Sobic
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