Newly appointed Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos has proven she is a fighter. Over the last year in her post, the press hasn’t exactly been kind. She has had some missteps and said a few things she surely would like to take back. However, those who know her best say she shouldn’t be underestimated. While some may believe that she is merely just a “yes” woman in the Trump Administration, she knows how to speak up about things she has issues with.
DeVos, the former conservative Michigan Republican Chairwoman, has worked hard to make education choices in her state more plentiful. She is driven, focused and will not stop until she gets her way. While getting her way didn’t always happen, you can rest assured, she put up a fight.
DeVos comes from enormous wealth. Her father, billionaire businessman Edgar Prince, was a well-known conservative philanthropist and businessman. Liker her father, she has used that wealth to gain political muscle and steer conservative legislation in her favor. For instance, even though her bid to get tax payers to foot the bill for school choice voucher fell flat. She was able to convince legislatures in surrounding states to take on the initiatives. So with her help, 15 states now have some form of school choice.
Not the obvious pick for Sec. of Education, DeVos arrived in Washington with very little experience. The biggest complaint — neither she nor her children had the opportunity to use federal financial aid, for obvious reasons. How can she understand what average, everyday Americans go through if she hasn’t had the same experience?
Despite the knocks, most people believe she will learn the ropes. One of her biggest educational foes, National Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, says people do underestimate her.
According to critics in her state, DeVos spent a lot of time attempting to steer tax dollars away from public schools and give it to charter schools. Weingarten says it was a direct attack to undermine public education. Also, over 80 percent of the state’s charter schools are for profit and very little oversight is provided. And while the state’s charter schools have their own issues, the public schools are at the worst they have been in years.
The fact that the press has not portrayed her in a very good light has irked her to no end. Like during her confirmation hearing when she was asked about weapons in school and answered that the guns were “for bears.”
Regardless, DeVos is determined to succeed. She has reached out to Weingarten and National Education Association President Lilia Eskelen. She plans on visiting schools with both officials in the near future.
Visit www.betsydevos.com to learn more.
Betsy DeVos has become known as education reformer. She has been working towards education reform since her days at Calvin College as Elisabeth Prince, when she started to work with campus politics and joining political groups. She has led all types of political campaigns, party organizations, and action committees for over 30 years. This includes her six years as the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.
She also married someone who was familiar with the political arena. Dick DeVos was the Rpublican nominee for the Governor of Michigan in 2006.
DeVos’s most important achievement has been becoming the US Education Secretary. In her new role, she has led a political reform for education and promoted private education vouchers as well as private schools, instead of funding public education. Through her work, she has seen success in education recently. There are now 250,000 students in 33 publicly funded, private programs, also called school choice programs.
DeVos says that these students and programs are an accomplishment. It has swept the nation, expanding programs to Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. Much of her work in education started decades ago, when she visited the Potter’s House Christian School, which provided private education to families who do not have a lot of income. DeVos said that she wanted to send her kids to a school that was committed to education and was happy that there was a choice.
Early in her career, she served on the boards of various charities including Children First America and the American Education Reform Council. Both of these were designed around passing Michigan’s first charter school bill in 1993. In 2000, she also tried to change the state constitution to allow for a tax-credit scholarship or vouchers so that more students could attend private schools. She especially wanted to bring this to urban school districts, who wanted better education options.
This formed the American Federation for Children for which Betsy DeVos is a chair. DeVos worked to bring people together who would be key in creating a national program for charter schools and private education vouchers. This new organization was affiliated with the American Federation for Children Action Fund. These efforts helped change the mind of potential legislators, getting those people elected, and then crafting better legislation. Finally, once laws are passed, they work with the programs to make sure that they work for children.
DeVos counts Florida as her biggest success as it has a large tax-credit scholarship program that has allowed for educational choice across the state. Learn more: https://www.nccivitas.org/civitas-review/devos-hits-home-run-harvard/