Betsy DeVos and education

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ Washington arrival went viral. At the center of the storm was her unshakeable support for educational choice programs. Charter schools and tuition vouchers is a subject of serious debate among educators. From the initial hearings to the Vice President’s historical tie breaking vote for confirmation, it’s been a challenge for this cabinet member.


Those familiar with her in home-state Michigan caution against underestimation the 11th United States Secretary of Education. Pundits and politicians predict the feisty radical will make major changes in the sector. Another recent development – cancellation of the federal policy that gave transgender students the right to choose which bathrooms they use – was handled gracefully by DeVos. Her ability to analyze and strategize was showcased.



Underfunded public school throughout the country feel even more disheartened. DeVos is a long-time opponent of public education. Detroit has the largest number of charter schools in the nation, in part because of her family’s DeVos Foundation. Her nationally televised unfamiliarity with student loan systems and the role she played in defeating legislation for oversight measures for charter schools add to the fears.


DeVos’ Republican spirit began during her years at Calvin College, a private liberal arts institution in Grand Rapids. Her critics often cite her own private education, as well as her children’s attendance at prestigious schools. They see her background combined with lack of hands-on experience with public education as a disqualifier. DeVos detractors list her involvement with lifting the cap on the number of charter schools in Detroit and dismissal of student proficiency data measures.



Along with former Governor Jeb Bush and other like-minded power players she has devoted time and financing to the pursuit radical changes in education. In this seriously divided nation her passion generates more suspicion.


She shrugged off the negatives and reached out to major teachers’ unions for improved communication and input. DeVos is determined to address social problems from her perspective. Getting out in the trenches during a “Rethink School” six-state tour was a power move. Among the schools she visited was the SLAM (Sports, Leadership and Management) Academy in Florida. The school was founded by controversial rapper Pitbull.


Her supporters reiterate that underneath the pearls and poise is a smart, savvy woman. Past experiences shows that she is determined to restructure the status quo. These supporters are convinced that as she learns and grows at the federal level she may achieve her goals. Learn more: