Betsy DeVos, the newest U.S. Education Secretary, is a very compassionate philanthropist, experienced in the political arena, and whose firm ideals and plans for education reform in America’s school system have made her a polarizing figure in Washington. Recently, Richard Perez-Pena highlighted Ms. DeVos’ fighting spirit in a piece in the New York Times (“Betsy DeVos is Publicly Polite, but a Political Fighter” – Feb. 23, 2017).
Early in her appointment, Ms. DeVos differed in opinion with President Trump on a few initiatives, one of which related to transgender issues in schools. Though she supported the current rulings relating to this case, President Trump moved to rescind the ruling. She remained true to the party and lent support to the president’s decision.
Ms. DeVos, a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman, is a leading advocate of school vouchers and charter schools. In Michigan, her reputation over the years as a most generous philanthropist is very well known. Now in the national spotlight, her reputation as a real fighter in the political arena is becoming widely recognized on a national level.
Ms. DeVos, with no inside government experience, came into her position with mostly vacant posts in the upper ranks of the department. She is basically starting off from scratch, able to bring staffers in she is most comfortable with.
Earlier in her life, Ms. DeVos worked at times at the auto parts company that her wealthy West Michigan businessman father Edgar Prince owned. Most noteworthy and well known publicly in her family is her husband Dick DeVos, a billionaire businessman (he was a former owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic) and government aspirant, unsuccessfully running for Michigan governor in 2006.
Opponents of Ms. DeVos claim that she doesn’t have the knowledge or experience dealing with public schools and colleges, as she and Mr. DeVos only had private educations, as did their children. As a strong supporter of charter schools, for decades she has directed tax money away from public schools, sending it to bolster charter school growth. She firmly believes that parents should fully have the right whether or not to send their children to charter schools, much to the chagrin of public school supporters.
What with the Detroit public school system continuing to deteriorate, Ms. DeVos bid for shutting down the public school system altogether. Ms. DeVos, who barely won the nomination for her post, had a tough time in Washington at first. She has, since then, settled in well.
Her family is still very active in philanthropy, mainly through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. Over their lifetimes, the DeVos’ have made charitable contributions of over $139 million, so their passion for helping others is seemingly limitless in passion and enthusiasm, with most significant financial contributions there to further advance their most selfless causes.
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