In Western Michigan, the DeVos name is synonymous with business and education. The Amway brand was founded by Richard DeVos Sr. with his partner Andel in the 1970s. However, his son Richard DeVos Jr. also worked as the company’s CEO and President for many years as well. However, it was only in the past two decades that the DeVos Family Foundation started paying more attention to education and helping underprivileged communities. This is all because of Betsy DeVos.
At Calvin College, Elisabeth Prince met Dick DeVos. They would eventually date and become husband and wife, creating a beautiful home in their hometown of Grand Rapids. Together, they would co-found schools and businesses within west Michigan, but it would be their political struggles that would bind them together.
Throughout the 1990s, Betsy DeVos worked hard for education reform in Michigan. She wanted to help underprivileged students go to schools outside of their school zones. However, this was difficult without certain legislation. Since the previous administrations created problems with “No Child Left Behind” and common core method, Betsy DeVos has had to do a lot of cleanup since taking on the 11th US Education Secretary office.
In 2017, she was appointed to the position where she talked about educational choice. She was criticized at the time because many believed that it would lead to taxpayer money for private schools. However, DeVos has said many times that this isn’t the case. She talked to interview Leslie Stahl on “60 Minutes” about these policies, stating that they are simply there to put students first, not take public funding.
In fact, much of the funding comes from philanthropy. DeVos has many donors on her list from the tech world including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, as well as Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. It’s been difficult for the US Education Secretary since taking office, mainly because of school safety reforms as well.
In 2018, after the Parkland shooting, President Trump placed Betsy DeVos in charge of school safety reform. This included changing policies to several school systems and working with security advisers to alleviate areas where there was considerable risk.
Betsy DeVos has two more years to work with state officials and get educational choice on better footing with the rest of the United States. However, her programs have been most successful in Louisiana and Florida. Particularly in Florida, she has been able to work with officials on setting up a tuition-based scholarship program that helps students pay for private school.
Florida also has the most educational choice options, including magnet programs, homeschooling, virtual schools, charter schools, and private schools. DeVos has been touring schools with the First Lady in recent months, making her way through Florida as she prepares for another push towards educational choice legislature.
Visit www.betsydevos.com to learn more.