Betsy Devos – How One School Sparked a Lifelong Mission

Betsy Devos, President Trump’s controversial Secretary of Education, has been committed to expanded educational opportunities for all children for many years. She strongly believes that a child’s school should not be selected based solely on the child’s zip code. Over the years, her political and philanthropic efforts have generally been opposed by the teachers’ union (American Federation of Teachers) and other proponents of the public school system.

 

Ms. Devos has been personally involved with Potter’s House Christian School, located in a lower-income neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Mi, since her now-grown children were school-age. She was impressed by the educational opportunities and loving atmosphere of the school. Students came from all income levels.

 

In an interview, Ms. Devos spoke of the many visits she and her husband made to the school. She commented that although they could afford to send their children to any school they wished, the parents of many of the Potter’s House students sacrificed heavily to send their children to this highly-rated private school. Currently, about 90% of the students go on to college.

 

For many years, Ms. Devos has been a significant financial supporter, volunteer and mentor at Potter’s House. Her observations at the school have at least partially influenced her life-time commitment to school choice. Ms. Devos has devoted her talents, time and money to improving education for all children, especially the disadvantaged.

 

The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation was ranked by Forbes as #24 in their 2015 top givers’ list. The foundation focuses on developing leadership, with education being one of their top priorities.

 

Betsy Devos has been heavily involved in Republican politics since 1982. One of her earliest initiatives concerned opening charter schools in Detroit where the public schools rank among the nation’s worst. Many of the charter schools, however, are run by for-profit companies and are low-performing. Ms. Devos has said that parents deserve the choice and the free market should determine whether the schools succeed. When Ms. Devos’ critics claim charter schools are a bad idea, they point to the Detroit charter schools.

 

Ms. Devos, by comparison, refers to a number of states that have implemented programs supporting school choice for parents through vouchers or other means. Florida is often cited as a national model for school choice. She was an ally of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, actively supporting his educational reforms.

 

As Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos believes all children should have expanded educational opportunities, with access to charter schools, private schools, virtual schools, home learning and other innovative approaches. Public schools, which most children attend, should be forced to compete and improve. Ms. Devos is known for being smart and determined and isn’t afraid to shake up the establishment. Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/betsy.p.devos/

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