In an interview with Philanthropy Roundtable, Betsy DeVos discusses her views on the state of the education system in the United States. In conversation about her support of educational reform and school choice, DeVos states that since Milton Friedman’s “The Role of Government in Education” she has never felt more optimistic. She mentions the growth of the number of publicly funded, private-choice programs and their increasing number of students across various states.
A recent move in Indiana to begin a new statewide voucher program has drawn even more attention to the movement, in DeVos’s opinion, and she claims this is because they are noticing that traditional public schools are “in many cases… failing.” In recent years, DeVos claims that this realization amongst many has resulted in them becoming more in favor of what were previously seen as “radical reforms.” These include tax credits and vouchers.
When asked about what brought her attention to this movement, DeVos cites frequent visits to a local Grand Rapids school serving low-income families. From then on, DeVos has stated she held a strong desire to assist those families in offering their children many of the same educational opportunities she herself was able to offer her children alongside her husband, Dick DeVos.
Dick DeVos was elected to the State Board of Education in Michigan in 1990, and Betsy DeVos became involved with foundations the goals of which included providing that financial assistance to low-income families. In recent years, Betsy DeVos cites Florida, Louisiana, and Indiana as the states that have been her greatest successes. Despite these states each having what Philanthropy claims to be “three reform-minded Republican governors,” DeVos insists that education must become either a bipartisan or non-partisan issue.
DeVos views all types of education—including homeschooling and charter schooling—to be valid educational choices. Her husband himself founded the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter high school in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Both Betsy and Dick DeVos are members of wealthy families native to west Michigan. Dick DeVos’s father, Rich DeVos, was one of the co-founders of the Amway Corporation. Over the course of their careers in both politics and religious organizations, the pair has donated upwards of $100 million. The couple has stated that their giving has always been with the supreme focus on education in the hopes of offering equal educational opportunity to families regardless of which area they happen to live in. This comes through the idea of schooling of choice that is achieved through vouchers and other forms of financial assistance.
Betsy DeVos has recently relocated to Washington, where she has been tasked with heading the Department of Education under the Trump administration. However, since her confirmation, she has yielded many mixed reviews, including from those in her previous area of jurisdiction, Grand Rapids, where many citizens have referred to her as “insulated” and “unprepared” in her new role. She has been witnessed to be in favor of little regulation and few standards when it comes to various forms of education, including those with more of a religious undertone. Learn more: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/03/a-tale-of-two-betsy-devoses/518952/