DeVos to speak at Mackinac GOP conference

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will attend and speak at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in late September, the Michigan Republican Party announced Wednesday.

DeVos, a wealthy school reform advocate tapped for the education post by President Donald Trump, hails from west Michigan and previously served as chair of the state party.

“I am very excited to welcome my good friend Betsy back home and have her speak at our conference,” current chair Ron Weiser said in a statement. “Michiganders have known Betsy for years as a leader, innovator, and champion for all students.”

DeVos, who has faced intense backlash from Democrats and public education groups since taking office, adds to a growing roster of speakers for the biennial Mackinac Island conference, scheduled for Sept. 22-24 at the Grand Hotel.

Republican National Committeewoman Ronna Romney McDaniel of Michigan is expected at the conference, and the state party announced Friday that former Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz will also speak. Chaffetz resigned at the end of June and is now a Fox News contributor.

As The Detroit News recently reported, Vice President Mike Pence has also expressed interest in speaking at the GOP conference but the White House is unlikely to finalize his schedule until next month.

DeVos has used her pedestal at the Department of Education to continue a promotional push for charter schools and school choice that she began in Michigan, where she was a major player in state politics and backed a controversial school voucher ballot proposal that voters rejected in 2000.

“We are proud of what Betsy has accomplished and excited that the nation is now getting to know her as we do,” Weiser said. “Her tireless fight to empower parents and ensure every student receives a great education will benefit Michigan and America for generations."