As Betsy Devos takes over the Department of Education, some are noting that there’s two sides to this coin. Born to a conservative Michigan family, some remember Devos as a woman who has always been willing to give her time and money to people who need it the most. Yet, even with this working knowledge of her background, there are others who see Devos in a different light in the political world. How she’s framed there largely depends on who is answering the question. To some, she is the fierce fighter looking to generate change in the way the country handles its educational policies. To others, she’s a slick operator in a Trump administration that has brought criticism down on her head. Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/betsy.p.devos/
Devos has noted in interviews that the origin of her passion for education comes from her upbringing. Growing up in a community where people largely sent their children to religious schools in hopes of carrying on long-held traditions, she has seen the power that this model has for helping communities build continuity. More than that, she’s seen that when parents are empowered to choose schools for their children, multiple parties tend to benefit.
This is what has led Devos into the national spotlight. Her and her husband have given millions of dollars through their foundation and personally to a wide range of causes. They have supported the arts and educational charities just the same. While she had been making an impact with this charity, her move into politics is about creating change on a bigger level. While some people might see her a political mover and shaker, she just sees herself as a reformer. In a country where educational policy has largely been stuck for a long time, she believes that there are good ideas just waiting to be implemented if people will just show some creativity.
Devos specifically cites a number of states where a school choice model has been beyond successful. She has seen, for instance, how parents in Louisiana have responded positively to the opportunity to put their kids in specific schools rather than having to just accept whatever the state provides. While critics of her policies note that the public school system should be the focus of government policy, Devos suggests that her duty is to the parents who are just trying to do the best for their children. She has to think practically about education because it has practical consequences.
All of that makes sense to those who have known her the longest. Devos got involved decades ago in education reform after trying to find appropriate schools for her own children. She came to understand that it’s often a real challenge to place children in schools where they will succeed. Seeing how difficult and convoluted the process was then, she jumped at the chance to get involved in politics in a way where she could really make change. She set out to create policies that would help all parents give their children the best chance.