Betsy DeVos, Education and Traction

The controversial, Secretary of Education in the Trump Administration from Holland, Michigan, Betsy Devos has been a leading proponent of school choice and charter schools since her early years in Michigan where she served as Chairperson of the Michigan Republican Party. Her husband’s family became prosperous in Michigan, and nationwide, as the founders of Amway Corporation and the Blackwater defense contractor that became famous during the Desert Storm conflict.


Devos Has No Link to Public Education


Devos has never personally been connected to public school education, she attended private religious schools as well as her children. But, she rose to become politically active in Michigan as a vocal support and advocate for private religious education, charter schools, and school choice initiatives. She has sought to direct state and national tax dollars toward funding private schools through grants and charter school choice. Her opposition view her activism as just a means to supply public monies for private schools who are already plagued with budgetary issue and monetary shortfalls. Her supports retort that Devos wants to give parents alternatives to failing schools and what to use competition to make public institutions improve.


Devos Advocate for a Privately Held Education System


Even more than advocating for charter schools, which still somewhat operate under the umbrella on state departments of education. Devos believes that privately held for-profit schools that operate under a grant or contract from the state Departments of Education are an even better idea than ordinary state and local run public schools. Due to Devos’ efforts, her state of Michigan, has the highest concentration of charter schools in the nation in the Detroit metro area. Consequently, Detroit’s schools are also rated as some of the worst in the nation.


Devos Makes Promises During Confirmation


During Devos’ Senate confirmation hearings, she assured senators that most American students would continue to be educated in the nation’s public school when fears surfaced that she would continue to push for privatization. However, after confirmation and later that year when visiting a public school in Washington, she was very critical of teachers as being too passive for waiting to “be told what to do” rather than taking initiative themselves.


Devos Indicts Public Schools as Failing Internationally


Devos has shared with insiders that she believes that Americans need to begin a discussion about public education and that even our best school do not compare well to schools in other developed countries. She stresses that she remains undecided about what school structure America should pursue. Many of her responses to questions posed during the confirmation hearings have put her up for comical derision and parody.


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