Betsy DeVos is a Determined Team Player

Even when she was a teenager, Betsy DeVos was interested in making the world a better place. As a student at Calvin College, a private Christian liberal arts institution of higher learning in Grand Rapids, Michigan, young Elisabeth Prince was an enthusiastic participant in campus politics. Today, as the 11th United States Secretary of Education, Mrs. DeVos is an outspoken proponent of charter schools, voucher programs and educational choice.


Educational Choice


Educational choice is the process by which public education funds are made available to parents so that their sons and daughters can participate in whatever educational process best meets their needs, whether that educational institution is a public school, a private school, a charter school, the home or some other learning environment. As Mrs. DeVos sees it, in many cases, traditional public schools have been unsuccessful in providing quality education, and she believes that all parents should have the right to explore other options.


When Betsy DeVos’s own children were school-age, she and her husband became involved with Potter’s House Christian School. Mrs. DeVos knew that her family was blessed with the financial resources to send their children to any school they pleased, and she became increasingly disturbed by the fact that that option was not available to lower-income parents.


In the 1990s, the DeVos family launched the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. Among many other philanthropic activities, the Foundation awarded scholarships to low-income parents so that those parents could get to choose where their children would go to school. Mrs. DeVos was very proud of the Foundation’s work, but she knew it wasn’t enough.


Taking the Educational Choice Movement National


In the 1990s, Mrs. DeVos was drafted to sit on the boards of two national charities, which allowed her to take her support for educational choice national. Children First America and the American Education Reform Council were both actively involved in the battle to mainstream educational choice through school vouchers and tax credits.


In 2010, Mrs. DeVos became one of the founders of the American Federation for Children. This organization works nationwide to help ensure that every child has equal access to the type of quality education that their parents want for them.


Where Are Educational Reforms Taking Place?


Mrs. DeVos sees Florida, Louisiana and Indiana as the states where the educational reform movement has been most successful. These are the states in which candidates supporting educational choice have been elected. Although traditionally, it has been Republicans who’ve been most supportive of educational choice, Mrs. DeVos sees the open school movement as a bipartisan issue. She is heartened by the fact that there has been an increasing amount of Democratic support for educational choice, particularly at the state legislative level.


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Betsy DeVos Prepares for Political Dogfight

When Betsy DeVos was brought into Washington D.C. for her Senate confirmation hearing, she likely had some idea of what she was getting into. The 2016 presidential election was rife with vitriol from both sides of the political aisle. With President Trump under so much scrutiny, some of which he brought upon himself, DeVos knew that she would likely face fire during her hearing. Nominated as the Secretary of Education, DeVos would face tough questioning from her colleagues. After a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, DeVos would be able to take her position. With one fight out of the way, DeVos knows that there are many more to come.


For Betsy DeVos, the fight for education reform began long before she ever thought of attaining political office. Roughly thirty years ago, DeVos began on her quest toward getting educational choice on the legislative menu. A topic originally inspired by Milton Friedman in the 50s, school choice seeks to bring back educational freedom to parents and children throughout the country. The core conceit of school choice is that both public and private establishments should be supported by the government. Public schools and private schools alike should receive federal funding so that they can provide support to children. Critics of this concept argue that privately owned schools will lack the oversight needed to ensure quality education. Betsy DeVos, a proud school choice advocate, takes up the free market position of most conservatives.


No matter which side of the equation you fall on with regard to school choice, DeVos is putting her career on the line in order to support the idea. Betsy DeVos has been personally involved in grassroots organizations throughout the country that has aimed to support school choice. For three decades, DeVos has been spending both her time and her money in order to drag educational choice under the spotlight. Throughout this time, DeVos has earned a reputation for herself as someone who is both devout and deeply committed to her work. DeVos is a reformer, after all, and it is very little that can stop her from pursuing her life’s goal.


While DeVos may be green from the perspective of political experience, she certainly has put in her time in the field of education. The DeVos family has worked for decades in order to prop up the Potter’s House Christian School as an iconic establishment in the school choice world. The school serves low-income families in Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas and it has gained a strong reputation. If DeVos can succeed in her life’s work, school choice might become a topic that people around the world come to learn about. With that being said, DeVos has a dogfight ahead of her if she wants to succeed.


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