For the better part of the 2000s, Betsy DeVos has been fighting for education reform. While it may not seem like she has experience, DeVos is the daughter of a public school teacher, and she has been ready to take on the position of US Education Secretary for many years. She started working in the Republican Party when she was young at Calvin College. It was at this small Christian conservative college that she would meet Dick DeVos, and together, they would become a huge political and philanthropic family in West Michigan.
Betsy DeVos always had her eye on becoming an education leader. She worked hard to bring new charter schools to Michigan and create funding opportunities through philanthropy. In fact, it’s estimated that the DeVos Family Foundation, co-founded by Dick and Betsy DeVos, has given over $139 million.
DeVos has other donors on her roster who also believe in her cause. This includes legendary Microsoft founder and owner Bill Gates, as well as Facebook founder and owner Mark Zuckerberg. Both of this tech billionaires have helped Betsy DeVos with her cause, even as she faces a ton of criticism for her policies.
There are many who oppose her stance on educational choice. She is a huge supporter of charter schools and private education. This fact has worried many in public schools who believe that tax dollars will go to private education. However, DeVos refuted this point in a “60 Minutes” interview from 2018. She said that people who don’t believe in educational choice don’t understand what it is, and that she is always trying to put students first.
While it’s clear that not many like her proposals for educational choice, parents and students have benefited from the policy. They are able to get out of failing schools quickly, and they don’t have to send their students to a certain school simply because of their zip codes. Instead, they are able to choose from magnet schools and virtual school programs. These have helped students finally go to a school where they have the right curriculum for their interests.
Still, public school teachers saw that it has led to a lack of funding for public schools, and that if continued, these vouchers could ruin the public school system. DeVos disagrees, but she’s had other stuff on her plate to deal with besides educational choice arguments. She has been working with school security officials to improve the safety of students on campus.
While this has recently led to legislation that will arm teachers in certain states, DeVos has been quiet about other policies that have helped deter criminal activity and gun violence on campus. Most recently, she has warned that bringing more guns to campus isn’t necessarily the safest idea, but teachers will need training to protect students if there is an incident on campus.
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