Those who know Betsy DeVos well say she’s a force to be reckoned with. In the state of Michigan she’s known as a devoted go-getter, determined to bring about educational change. Even those who roundly against her political leanings describe her has pragmatic, kind and caring. Now that she’s serving in the capacity of Secretary of Education for the Trump Administration, people who don’t know her feel that she’s tone deaf and unprepared for the job.
DeVos lets all the criticism roll off her back. Moving from Michigan Republican Party chair to her current position requires a steep learning curb. DeVos says she’s ready. But some wonder if she has gotten in over her head.
DeVos was born in a conservative, wealthy family in Holland, Michigan in 1958. Her father, Edgar Prince, was a billionaire industrialist. But as rich as he was, her current husband’s family, the DeVoses, are even richer still. Dick DeVos is the heir to the Amway fortune. She, along with her husband have used their tremendous wealth to wield a great deal of political power.
Over the years, they have fought for charter schools and vouchers. In 2001, DeVos unsuccessfully attempted to have a bill passed to make tax payers foot the bill of charter schools. DeVos’s educational ideology shouldn’t be a surprised since it was adopted from the same ideals that come from her Dutch homeland. In the late 1800s, the liberals and the church fought over which educational system should reign in the country.
Trump tends to agree with this principle. Or at least, he pretends that he does. Many people argue that DeVos is blurring the lines between separation of church and state. But even those who agree with her views criticize her for the lack of oversight in charter schools.
Wayne State University Professor of Education Thomas Peroni says he is frightened over DeVos being at the helm of national education. He claims that her monitoring role in Michigan has caused great harm to the system. The bottom line is DeVos’s current job requires her to ensure that people from all backgrounds get the quality education they deserve.
But many point to some of DeVos’s “astonishingly ignorant” comments to show she’s completely out of touch. Her comment about HBCU’s being the pioneers of school choice did not bode well. A person who is considered head of U.S. education surely would know that HBCU’s were created because Blacks were denied admission into most white schools.
Despite it all, those who know DeVos are still rooting for her. DeVos’s classmate Noel Wollfins says he just hope she knows what she’s gotten herself into.
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