The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Omarosa claims Betsy DeVos wants to ‘replace public education with for-profit schools’ — and that Trump calls her ‘Ditzy DeVos’

(Update: Ed Department comment, more from book)

A new book about President Trump by one of his former senior advisers, Omarosa Manigault Newman, claims that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants “to replace public education with for-profit schools” and that Trump has called her by the nickname “Ditzy DeVos.”

The book, “Unhinged,” describes Trump during the years that Manigault Newman has known him, stretching back to when she was a contestant on his reality show, “The Apprentice,” nearly a dozen years ago. Manigault Newman, who served in the administration for less than a year as assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, portrays Trump as a bigoted misogynist.

The White House has slammed the book, saying it is filled with lies. Trump, in a tweet Tuesday, called the author “a crazed, crying lowlife” and a “dog.” Elizabeth Hill, press secretary at the Education Department, said in a statement: “This disgraced former White House employee is peddling lies for profit. The book is a joke as are the false claims she’s making about Secretary DeVos.”

In the latter part of “Unhinged,” Manigault Newman alleges that DeVos wants to eliminate public education in the United States, which many of DeVos’s critics have long contended. DeVos has supported alternatives to public education for decades and has called public schools “a dead end” but has never said she wants to eliminate them.

Manigault Newman writes:

Her plan, in a nutshell, is to replace public education with for-profit schools. She believes it would be better for students, but the truth is, it’s about profit. She’s so fixated on her agenda, she can’t give any consideration to building our public schools, providing financing for them, particularly their infrastructure needs.

Booing students at Betsy DeVos’s commencement speech told to shut up or get diplomas sent in mail

Manigault Newman writes that she accompanied DeVos on a trip to Florida in 2017 and that DeVos was booed while giving a graduation speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Florida. Graduating students heckled DeVos in large part because a few months earlier, she had called historically black colleges and universities — which were created because blacks couldn’t attend white schools — “pioneers” of school choice.

Manigault Newman writes that after the speech, she asked the secretary how she thought she did. DeVos responded, according to the book, by saying she thought she did “great,” and then is quoted as having said the students at the Bethune-Cookman graduation “don’t have the capacity to understand what we’re trying to accomplish.” Manigault Newman then wrote this: “Meaning, all those black students were too stupid to understand her agenda.”

The book says:

There is no way she should be the secretary of education. Once I returned and told DJT about what had happened, he shook his head in disgust. He said, “She is Ditzy DeVos, what do you expect? In a very short period of time, I will get rid of her. Believe me, believe me. “

Trump commonly uses derogatory nicknames for people around him.

DeVos has appeared several times before Congress and has been unable to discuss basic education policies when questioned by lawmakers.