Republican former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers reported receiving the legal maximum contribution to his 2024 campaign for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat from former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. A review of his record suggests that he shares her opposition to public education and her support for privatization of the education system.
In his Oct. 15 quarterly report to the Federal Election Commision, Rogers said he accepted a $3,300 contribution from DeVos for his primary campaign and another $3,300 for his potential general election race. He received tens of thousands of dollars more from other right-wing members of the DeVos family.
DeVos, who in 2018 polled as the most unpopular member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, is one of the nation’s most prominent critics of the public education system and supports creating a system of vouchers to allow parents to use public education funding to pay their children’s private or parochial school tuition. She and her family helped bankroll an unsuccessful 2022 campaign to put a referendum before Michigan voters on whether to use taxpayer dollars to cover tuition for private and religious schools. In 2000, Michigan voters rejected a similar DeVos effort 69%-31%.
She made headlines in July 2022 for speaking at a summit held by Moms for Liberty, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated antigovernment extremist group, and telling attendees, “I personally think the Department of Education should not exist.”
Rogers served in the Michigan Senate from 1995 to 2001. According to media reports from that time, he endorsed private school vouchers and authored proposals to implement them in Detroit.
Over his 14 years in Congress, Rogers voted repeatedly for school vouchers for students in Washington, D.C.
The program was phased out in 2009, but Rogers voted two years later for the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, which upped the program to $60 million annually in D.C. school vouchers. The bill was incorporated into that year’s federal spending compromise law, which Rogers also supported.
A Rogers campaign spokesperson did immediately respond to questions for this story.
Studies have shown school vouchers do not improve outcomes for students and may actually make them worse as those students who are able to leave their public school actually end up learning less at the new private or parochial school. A 2018 federal analysis found that D.C. voucher recipients saw a “statistically significant negative impact on mathematics achievement after two years.” They also saw a small drop in reading achievement.
In his Senate campaign kickoff video in September, Rogers attacked the public school system, claiming, “Schools care more about social engineering than, as my father used to say, the three R’s: readin’, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic.”