Most View New DoEd Secy. Devos Unfavorably, Poll Says

Education Secy. Betsy DeVos, the former billionaire school-choice advocate, has been on the job more than a month, but most Americans have an unfavorable first impression, according to a new poll.

More than half of those polled, or 52.3%, said they either somewhat or strongly disapproved of DeVos, according to a new nationwide poll from Saint Leo University’s Polling Institute, in St. Leo, FL, in the Tampa Bay metro area.

The poll e asked 1,073 adults for their impressions of President Trump and high-profile members of Trump’s administration.

Among those surveyed, 41% said they “strongly disapproved” of DeVos, while 11.3% said they “somewhat disapproved” of her. She had the highest combined disapproval rating as well as the lowest combined approval rating, which was 34.5%.

The Saint Leo University poll had a margin of error of 3%.

The second-most-unpopular top Trump official, among the six on the list, according to the poll, was Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, whose combined disapproval rating was under 50%. She is regularly lampooned on late night television.

DOD Secretary James Mattis enjoyed the lowest combined disapproval rating, at just under 30%. The survey also asked people about their general impressions of Trump’s cabinet picks, and their combined approval rating was 40.5%, while their combined disapproval rating was 51.9%. It asked about Trump’s handling of various topics, but did not ask about education specifically.

Trump Polling

There was more bad news for Trump.

About 44% of respondents said they either strongly approve (23.4%) or somewhat approve (20.7%) of the job the new president has been doing since taking office on Jan. 20, 2017.

The combined percentage of those who disapprove of the job Trump is doing came to just over half, at 51.2%. The percentage who somewhat disapprove was 10.8%, but the percent who strongly disapprove is 40.4%. A little less than 5% are unsure.

“President Trump’s approval rating is historically low for someone at the beginning of their term,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. “While part of this appears to be caused by the administration’s shaky start in several key areas, it is also caused by a hyper-polarized environment.  Republicans approve of President Trump at an 86.5% clip, while Democrats only give him 15.2% approval.  These percentages are unlikely to change very much over time, barring a major event.”

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-WI, was given an overall approval rating of 42.4%, with 14.9% strongly approving of his work and 27.5% somewhat approving. The combined disapproval rate for Ryan was 45%, with 17.7% somewhat disapproving and 27.3% strongly disapproving.


DeVos is one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system. Detroit is by far the lowest in this group of low-performing districts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress math and reading scores. One study found that Detroit’s charter schools performed at about the same dismal level as the city’s traditional public schools. After more than a decade, Michigan has the dubious distinction of being one of five states with declining reading scores.

The DeVos confirmation vote in the Senate was the closest ever for a nomination of a cabinet secretary, and she was confirmed only after Vice President Mike Pence was called to step in and break a 50-50 tie. Her confirmation on the narrowest of margins speaks to the opposition she faced by an exceptionally broad spectrum of educational leaders and advocates who said she was ill-prepared to run the DoEd, which, according to federal employee surveys, is a pretty unhappy place to work.


Devos’ tough confirmation compares badly to that of President Obama’s first Education Secy. Arne Duncan, who sailed through his confirmation hearing in 2009. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., now head of the Senate education committee, praised him as the best of Obama’s cabinet picks. Duncan’s relationship with congressional Republicans soured after he started implementing waivers to the unpopular No Child Left Behind education law. Republicans viewed the NCLB, and the waivers, as unnecessary intrusion into local education matters.

Info:  (report).


Staff and Cabinet Appointments Strongly approve Somewhat approve Combined approval Strongly
Somewhat disapprove Combined disapproval
Betsy DeVos, DoEd Secy. 16% 18.5% 34.5% 41% 11.3% 52.3%
Kellyanne Conway, Counselor 17.2% 20% 37.2% 36.3% 13.3% 49.6%
Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist 16.4% 19.6% 36% 36% 10.2% 46.2%
AG Jeff Sessions 17.9% 20.1% 38% 35.6% 12.1% 47.7%
Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor 16.3% 21.1% 37.4% 30.2% 13.7% 43.9%
DoD Secy. James Mattis 26.9% 27% 53.9% 19% 10.5% 29.5%


About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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