A think tank funded by Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education pick recently advocated for putting kids back in the workforce.
The Acton Institute, a conservative nonprofit that is said to have received thousands of dollars in donations from Betsy DeVos and her family, posted an essay to its blog this month that called child labor “a gift our kids can handle.”
“Let us not just teach our children to play hard and study well, shuffling them through a long line of hobbies and electives and educational activities,” said the post’s author, Joseph Sunde. “A long day’s work and a load of sweat have plenty to teach as well.”
Child labor isn’t universally forbidden in the U.S.― actors and newspaper deliverers are two exceptions― but it is tightly regulated.
DeVos was a member of Acton’s Board of Directors for 10 years and while it’s unclear how much influence she currently has on the organization, its homepage now prominently features a message congratulating DeVos on her nomination.
The essay raises serious questions about the woman who would potentially be in charge of U.S. public schools. Education advocates have already expressed concern about DeVos’ history of supporting school voucher programs.
“In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said.
“She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers — which take away funding and local control from our public schools — to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense,” the National Education Association said. “These schemes do nothing to help our most-vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps. She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education.”
Trump’s team did not immediately return a request for comment.