On Wednesday night, IL-FPS broke the news that Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education under former (and now indicted) President Trump, was spending thousands in the mayoral race in support of Paul Vallas.
Chicago Sun-Times: Vallas backed by PAC founded by former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
The Vallas campaign denied connections with DeVos on Wednesday and again yesterday at the WBEZ/Sun-Times mayoral debate. But DeVos and Vallas co-hosted a reception for the superintendent of Chicago’s Catholic schools in 2021. And the chair of DeVos’ Illinois Federation for Children PAC, Nate Hoffman, has been regularly attending Vallas’ campaign events:
By the way, that’s the same Nate Hoffman who has been lobbying for vouchers in Springfield for years for multiple groups, including Empower Illinois, the state’s biggest voucher middleman; DeVos’ American Federation for Children; and Jeb Bush’s ExcelinEd.
Whether DeVos has directly coordinated with Vallas or not, Vallas has a comprehensive and radical plan to privatize Chicago’s school system through vouchers, religious charter schools and dismantling centralized district functions. You can read about it in a piece from IL-FPS board member Diane Horwitz and director Cassie Creswell here:
Washington Post: High stakes for Chicago schools in mayoral election
We’ve been tracking DeVos’ activity in Illinois for a while as part of our campaign to end Illinois' Invest in Kids voucher program. That same Illinois Federation for Children PAC spent $700,000 on Illinois races in 2022, with some of those funds coming from another national privatization billionaire, Jim Walton. (See our page Who Supports Vouchers in Illinois for more.)
In addition to Illinois, DeVos’ funded PACs have been pushing for voucher expansion all around the country, including Arizona, Iowa, Texas and more:
Diane Ravitch's Blog: Who Is Putting Up the Big Money Behind Vouchers?
Tuesday April 4th is Election Day statewide, and we’ll be sending out more election-related news and resources shortly. In the meantime here’s some resources on our website to check out before you go vote:
- Research your ballot before you vote! Includes links to endorsement lists from groups around the state
- Directory of dark money orgs on the ground in school board races in Illinois; lots of connections to the Chicago mayoral race too
- What do state test scores measure? Explainer: Why “proficiency” on state tests doesn’t mean “on grade level”
Questions about where, when and how to vote? The 866 Election Protection Illinois site is our go-to or call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).