Betsy DeVos is not one to shy away from a conflict. As a longtime actor in the political sphere, she is familiar with having to fight her corner. As an advocate for charter schools, she took on the unionized public education sector in Michigan and won. Even her political opponents came to respect her commitment, practicality and generosity.
These days, as Secretary of Education for a controversial administration, DeVos is working harder than ever to achieve results without compromising on her core values. Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick, take education very seriously. Though they both come from wealthy families, they know that a good education is the pathway to success. In fact, Dick DeVos became an advocate for students and families when he realized how badly the public school system that he attended had deteriorated.
The DeVos family was also moved when they saw the sacrifices working-class parents were making to send their children to private, and often faith-based schools. They couldn’t understand why their thousands of tax dollars were being poured into unsafe, substandard public schools. Why couldn’t some of that money go to support safe and effective schools? They donated both time and money to schools like The Potter’s House, in a suburb near Grand Rapids. In this safe and well-run environment, they saw children, even poor children from immigrant families, flourish.
Betsy DeVos wants to take that success nationwide. She’s meeting opposition from every quarter, even some where she anticipated no conflict. For example, some LGBT organizations have worried that she will stigmatize the children of same-sex parents. DeVos had not expected this; she wants the best for every child, whatever their family is like. She has made efforts to meet with everyone from union leaders to teachers and students in order to better get her message across.
Today’s students are tomorrow’s teachers, engineers and medical professionals. With poor public education, America has become a laughingstock around the world. DeVos knows that there are countries with much better results that provide public funds to religious schools. These include the Netherlands and many Commonwealth countries. Since America’s children are at risk, she is willing to put in the groundwork and show citizens and worried public-school teachers hard evidence to back up her plans.
DeVos knows that she is her own best asset. When people meet her, they’re disarmed by how down-to-earth and generous she is. Though her opponents have portrayed her as a monster, she’s nothing more than a savvy businesswoman and caring mom. That said, DeVos will not be derailed. She’s used to fighting for what she knows is right, and has never been known to back down.
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