A teen driver grabs the steering wheel and puts his foot on the gas pedal. Windblown snow gets blown across the runway in front of him as he slowly approaches. Sound like a video game? In fact, it’s actually the simulation of a flight within a Cessna airplane. George Radashaw, 17, said how he has always loved aviation since he was a young boy of three years old. He has continued to keep his eyes focused on some of the most high tech instruments.
This unique aviation academy in West Michigan is one of the unique public schools available, which Dick DeVos started in 2010 with the encouragement of his wife, Betsy DeVos, now the Secretary of Education for the Trump Administration. Betsy DeVos will testify in a Senate confirmation hearing, which takes place on the 17th of January. This nonprofit charter first started with around 80 students at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, inside of a rundown office space, and it has grown to over 600 students. They all come from several different counties. While many of the kids ride the three public buses to reach the suburban airport, there’s one teen who has even chosen to stay with friends for the opportunity. Meanwhile, he makes a 150-mile commute home to see family on the weekends.
This school holds a public lottery every spring when the applications have exceeded the number of openings, but the school does seem like it fits into the philosophy of Betsy DeVos and what she hopes to promote while serving Washington. Another one of the great projects of the DeVos family was the Great Lakes Education Project. This was a school-choice advocacy organization, and it had a political action committee on it. Michigan had a bailout in the Detroit school district, but the DeVos family had successfully fought tooth and nail against a proposal that might have opened a commission on schools and the publicly funded charters. The Republicans controlled the Legislature at the time and threw out the proposal.
In a postelection rally, Betsy DeVos gave a speech in saying how bigger government is not the answer. Instead, the answer is to control things from a local perspective and listen to parents. It’s about giving them greater choices in their public school options. When we look at the example of the West Michigan Aviation school, we see how much help can do to raise the quality of a school. While this educational facility remains free of tuition, like the other Michigan charters and traditional public schools, they operate based on a state allowance.
In every grade level of this school, you have aviation classes, and you will also learn about its history. Some of the other classes include pilot instruction, plane maintenance and electronics. In addition, this school offers two Cessna 172 planes, and one of them was even donated from Delta Airlines. The students who have taken a solo flight will wear a white shirt to show they have hit a milestone, and they distinguish themselves among the many blue shirts of the school.
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