Betsy DeVos, Fighter for Education
“She’s genuine and regular a person as you could meet…Just a regular person who happens to be a millionaire or billionaire” says Gary Naeyaert, a former director of an advocacy group founded by Betsy Devos to promote charter schools.
Not all would agree. Betsy Devos, the current US Secretary of Education appointed by President Donald Trump, has been a controversial and tough fighter for changes in American schools. She is an advocate for charter schools and publicly paid-for vouchers to help students gain admission to private and religious schools. She has made enemies along the way. She has supported schools that are run for profit and has also supported charters founded in Detroit in her home state of Michigan.
DeVos has stated that the public schools in Detroit should be shut down because of poor performance. She has encouraged the founding of charter schools in the city but many are also low-achieving. She is opposed to performance standards and regulations. Other school-choice advocates disagree with her. Devos has said the parents should make the choice and the free market will prevail.
The new Education Secretary has had little to no connection with the public schools. Her entire family was educated in private schools. She and her husband, Dick, come from wealth. Her father, Edgar Prince, was a successful businessman and a supporter of Conservative Christian causes. Her brother, Erik Prince, was the founder of the controversial security company Blackwater, which gained notoriety in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Dick Devos is the son of the founder of Amway. He also ran for governor of Michigan in 2006 but lost.
The couple has contributed generously to their hometown of Grand Rapids. The city now boasts the DeVos Place Performance Center, DeVos Children’s Hospital, the DeVos Performance Hall, a DeVos parking lot, and more. Dick DeVos founded an aviation charter school at the airport.
People have called DeVos “driven,” “steely,” and “dangerous” by an opponent. But there is no question that she gets the job done.
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