Betsy DeVos is a philanthropist, businesswomen and the US Secretary of Education. She is best known for her efforts to reform the US educational system. Together with her husband, Dick DeVos, she founded a Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, a platform they use to support the educational reform that focuses on developing and improving vouchers and charter school system.
Brief Family History
Betsy Devos was born in 1958. Her family was affluent and conservative, two factors that majorly influenced her political views. Her father was Edgar Prince, a Dutch industrialist notable for his political contributions and charitable giving. Betsy inherited this philanthropist philosophy.
She and her husband, Dick DeVos, are known together with her husband Dick, financially contributed to religious and political causes. Their contributions to these causes attracted a lot of public’s attention, some criticizing and some praising DeVos efforts to reform the educational system.
Before marrying Dick, Betsy attended Calvin college where she formed her political views, influenced by her hometown’s cultural and religious ties to the Netherlands. She became involved in campus politics, which was the birth of her political career.
Betsy joined an educational-choice movement, emphasizing the importance of students having multiple choices when pursuing their academic endeavors. In her interview for Philanthropy Roundtable, Mrs. Devos argued that the current educational system, one that includes public schools, is failing. Because of this, she embraced and pursued radical reforms, such as vouchers and tax credits.
Pushing For Reform
Dick and Betsy became more politically involved in 1990 when Dick ran (and got elected) for the State Board of Education. Betsy started a foundation that offered a scholarship to those families who needed it. While this was wonderful and helpful, according to Betsy, it was not enough. She wanted to change the system and thus had joined the educational-choice movement.
In the 1990s she served on the boards of American Education Reform Council and Children First America. She and Dick acted locally and successfully passed the first charter-school bill in 1993 (Michigan). Michigan families were pleased with the law, encouraging the DeVos family to push constitutional change (one that would allow tax-credit scholarships or vouchers statewide), but the effort failed in 2000.
American Federation for Children
After the efforts for constitutional change failed, she (together with other people and organizations) formed the American Federation for Childer, whose goal is to educate public on the importance of having a broader educational choice. The AFC is affiliated with the Alliance for School Choice and the American Federation for Children Action Fund, which is a political action committee.
The most significant success has been seen in Flordia, where 50 000 students attend the school of their choice, thanks to the tax-credit program. Louisiana and Indiana are also showing signs of progress, according to Betsy.
According to Betsy, she is trying to tear down the embedded mindset of students attending the schools they are closest to, partly because it is financially favorable. She also sees great potential in digital technology, arguing that this new technology will further democratize the school’s system. Betsy also sees the potential in homeschooling, charter schools, and virtual schools.
For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.