Betsy Devos, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, has come under fire for her support of charter schools from congressional Democrats, including Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
A Daily Caller investigation reveals that Whitehouse — who has repeatedly criticized Devos, even suggesting she has never set foot in a public school — is a former stockholder in a for-profit charter school company. What’s more, Whitehouse sent his own children to private schools because, in his words, the public schools wouldn’t have given his kids “the best education.”
Whitehouse sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), which will be vetting Devos’s nomination. Devos is one of eight Trump nominees whom Senate Democrats have vowed to oppose.
Senate Democrats on the committee, including Whitehouse, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, published a letter Thursday that questioned Devos’s ties to pro-charter school groups.
While at a meeting with Rhode Island educators soon after Devos’s nomination, Whitehouse claimed that Devos’s “views on education seem to be out of line with many Rhode Islanders’ values.”
At that same meeting, Whitehouse “questioned whether Devos had ever entered a public school, drawing laughs from the supportive roundtable,” according to local news outlet WPRI. (The story noted that Whitehouse went to a private boarding school for high school and later went to Yale.)
But Whitehouse’s own history shows he had no problem with financially benefiting from for-profit charter schools.
A financial disclosure report filed by Whitehouse in 2001 lists the businesses in which he owned 10 percent of the stock or owned at least $5,000 in investments.
Among those listed is Edison Schools, a for-profit charter school company. Edison Schools was a publicly traded company from 1999 until 2003, when it reverted back to being privately held.
Whitehouse also chose to place his children in private schools, rather than in the public school system.
When asked during a 2012 Senate debate why he sent his children to private schools, Whitehouse answered: “I want the best education that I can for them, and I felt that in their circumstances the places that I chose to send them were the best schools for them.”
Sen. Whitehouse’s office did not respond to a request for comment.