Category: Education

Betsy DeVos: The New Education Secretary

Have you heard the latest from Washington regarding education reform? Betsy DeVos is the new US Education Secretary, appointed by President Donald Trump in 2016. She has been working through a lot of criticism, but she continues to be positive and excited about the changes happening across the United States in education. In a recent interview with “60 Minutes,” she discussed her plans with Leslie Stahl. She has been doing a great job with interviews as she tours the country in support of educational choice, explaining why it’s a great option right now for students and parents.

 

Leslie Stahl grilled DeVos on the educational choice programs she is working on in different states. He pointed out that standardized testing and Common Core Math have been increasing scores by 20% in the past few years, but DeVos looks at the reports of students not entering college with the right math skills and reading comprehension. She says that only time will tell if the new programs are more successful. She believes that they will be.

 

Educational choice has received a lot of criticism simply because many do not understand what it means. Most believe that it is public funding for charter schools, but actually, educational choice is giving students the freedom to pick where they want to go to school so that they don’t have to attend a failing school just because of a zone or where they live.

 

Educational choice programs are more than charter and private schools as well. Students can choose to go to a magnet program, as well as virtual schools and homeschooling courses. Basically, parents and students now have a way out if they do not like the school where they are zoned. Many ask how this is paid for, but they would be surprised to note that much of the funding comes from philanthropy, not public funding.

 

Donors like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton have been donating to the educational choice movement for many years. As DeVos continues to move around the country, she has been a champion of this movement and has brought forth a variety of fresh ideas to help students understand that they can have the education where they want to go to school.

 

This has become an increasing problem for American students who simply don’t want to go to the school where they are zoned. Students now are able to pick the programs, and DeVos hopes that they will see more progress if the programs are allowed to thrive.

 

She has also been tasked with school safety reform in the wake of several school shootings in the past few months. This has given her time to work on new policies with legislators, but it has taken away from her educational choice campaign. She hopes to help with school safety and new options for educational choice throughout the rest of her appointment.

 

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Betsy DeVos and Her Philanthropy Work

Elisabeth Dee DeVos is an American investor, politician, and the current Secretary of Education. She was born in 1958 and is married DickDeVos, son of Richard DeVos, a billionaire and co-founder of Amway. Mrs. DeVos has been a Republican Party member and advocate of educational reform for a long time.

 

Background

 

 

DeVos was born to a Dutch family and grew up in Holland, Michigan. She joined Holland Christian School and then Calvin College in Michigan. She graduated in 1979 with a degree in business economics. In college, she was active in campus politics. Her husband, Dick is from one of the wealthiest families in Michigan. Dick has financed various conservative political campaigns. In 2006, he lost the 2006 Michigan gubernatorial election on a Republican Party ticket.

 

DeVos and the Republican Party

 

Mrs. DeVos has been an active Republican Party member in Michigan since 1982. For three decades from 1986, she has been elected as a local delegate for the Republican Party in Michigan. Between 1992 and 1997 she was Michigan’s Republican National Committeewoman. She then became the chair of the party in Michigan between 1996 and 2000.

 

DeVos Charitable Activities

 

Mrs. DeVos and her husband Dick founded Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation in 1989. She is the chairman of the foundation. Through the organization, the family has donated tens of millions of dollars. Most of their donations reflect their political opinion and Christian beliefs.

 

A Summary of DeVos Charitable Activities in 2015

 

In 2015, Betsy DeVos Family Foundation donated over $10 million and pledged an extra $3.2 million. Various organizations in the education sector benefited. Loudspeaker Media Inc., an educational site by the former anchor at CNN Campbell Brown received $400,000. Another $150,000 was given to Success Academy Charter Schools, with a similar amount approved for future disbursement. GREAAT Schools, Inc. received $5,000.

 

Besides, the Potter’s House School received $200,000. This Christian school is found in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Alliance for School Choice, a group that collaborates with the American Federation for Children received $100,000. Furthermore, $50,000 was donated to the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

 

Several conservative organizations such as Institute for Justice, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Inc. received $750,000, $10,000, and $6,500 respectively. Various colleges and universities were also beneficiaries of this foundation in 2015. The University of Maryland College Park Foundation, the School of Missionary Aviation Technology, Ferris State University, and Davenport University are some the beneficiaries. Several Christian-related education associations have also received a lot of support.

 

Reasons She Is Interested in Education

 

Mrs. DeVos’ children were educated at Potter’s House Christian School. It is during this time that they discovered how determined some parents were to have their kids learn in a safe and student-friendly place. This made them start the foundation to help such parents achieve these dreams for their children.

 

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