Betsy DeVos Is Engaging With Conservative Education Reform

For years, the refrain surrounding the American public school system has been simple: there isn’t enough being done and children are being left behind. This mindset has permeated the way that politicians reference education but so few have been willing to stump for real change that can have long-lasting effects. Betsy DeVos is the newest Secretary of Education, appointed to the post by President Donald Trump, and she is echoing many of the same sentiments as those before her, albeit with a twist. Instead of just wringing her hands, Betsy DeVos is engaging in the idea of education reform from a conservative perspective — something that has rarely been done over the past couple of decades.

 

Betsy DeVos is a staunch conservative and mega-donor from the state of Michigan. For the better part of the past 30 years, DeVos has worked to tirelessly introduce the concept of true conservative education reform to the United States of America. By focusing on Michigan primarily, DeVos has been able to personalize her message while hammering home improvements to her own state. What exactly is conservative education reform? How is her mindset any different than the work that President George Bush attempted back in the early aughts? The difference, it turns out, starts with a man named Milton Friedman.

 

More than 50 years ago, Milton Friedman penned ‘The Role of Government in Education’. His writing focused on the role of the American government in the realm of education. Friedman, who was admittedly ahead of his time, would introduce the concept of ‘school choice‘ to the national registrar for the first time. The concept was picked up by Betsy DeVos, albeit at a much later date, and she has since worked to introduce it to the rest of the world. School choice would bring more equality to the field of education and it would allow students to have the opportunity to pursue their education that fits them more personally. This, in essence, is the core of school choice and the core of what has become the conservative position on education reform.

 

School choice is an admittedly tough sell to progressive leaders within teacher’s unions around the country and that is something that Betsy DeVos clearly understands. After being confirmed for her post at the Department of Education, DeVos quickly went about arranging a face-to-face with some of the most prominent union leaders in the field of education. While the vast majority of these representatives snubbed the invitation, largely in their NeverTrump angst, some few did choose to participate. Among those that attended the meeting was Randi Weingarten, a union representative. Weingarten was quick to realize that Betsy DeVos was a lesson in personality versus policy and how it is hard to differentiate the two at a glance. DeVos, Weingarten went on to admit, was soft-spoken and amicable during the discussion but her words were wrought with steel. Weingarten concluded that DeVos was a true believer of the school choice concept and that she would be a tough opponent during the legislative process.

 

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Betsy DeVos is Polite in Public but a Fierce Political Advocate

Only hours before President Trump announced that he would revoke the policy that allowed transgender students public bathroom access in schools, Betsy DeVos had a meeting with a representative for transgender and gay employees at the Education Department. Ms. DeVos was in opposition of President Trump’s decision, but she maintained her politeness and professionalism during the official announcement.

 

Although Ms. DeVos has maintained professionalism since she has taken office, she is known to be a fierce political fighter in her home state. Former state attorney general Mike Cox stated “In Michigan politics, she instilled fear in a lot of people, I found Betsy to be very determined, steely, when she sets her mind on a goal.” This determination is expected to yield results, but it will take time. Ms. DeVos has no official government experience in Washington, and high ranking positions in her department were vacant when she took over, but her fierce determination and reputation to be a political fighter are attributes that will help her succeed.

 

Betsy DeVos was elected to her position with a 51-50 vote. The tiebreaking vote was cast by Vice President Mike Pence. Although she is new to Washington politics, Ms. DeVos is already taking great strides to improve education for children in the United States. As soon as she was elected to her position, she reached out to two major teachers unions that resulted in Ms. DeVos and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, planning to visit schools together in the near future. According to Ms. Weingarten, “There is a real tendency to underestimate her. She comes across as personable, plain-spoken, but she is dangerous.”

 

Ms. DeVos is implementing change by advocating for charter schools and vouchers. Ms. DeVos proposes to cut funding from public schools that will be used to create vouchers. These vouchers would be given to underprivileged children to use for payment at a religious or charter school. There are many who believe this will cause a drastic decline in the quality of education in the public school system, but Ms. DeVos and her supports feel differently. Ms. DeVos and her supporters feel that cutting funding in public schools will cause competition, so public schools will be forced to make improvements to keep up with charter schools.

 

Ms. DeVos was born in 1958 in Holland, Michigan. She has strong religious roots, as she was raised in the Christian Reformed Church. She attended Calvin College, which is a Christian school, located near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ms. DeVos is married to Dick DeVos. Mr. DeVos’ father is the founder of the marketing company known as Amway. The couple have four children, and they support various political, religious, and conservative groups. Ms. DeVos served as the chair for the Alliance for School Choice, and she was chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996-2000. Ms. DeVos is also a member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and an advocate for charter schools.

 

To learn more, visit www.betsydevos.com.

Betsy Devos Remains Genteel in the Middle of Political Chaos

Just before the controversy of President Donald Trump’s move to invalidate the federal policy on bathroom privilege for transgender students made rounds, Betsy Devos tried to assuage the displeasure of the community. As the current education secretary, she always believes that policies stay beneficial for all students regardless of their sexual orientation. To show her sincerity, she set up a meeting with a representative of employees in the LGBTQ community to notify them of any announcement.

 

The appearance of Betsy Devos during the announcement of the policy change might have come to a surprise to the public. However, what transpired in the meeting remains the same. Devos hopes to give more opportunities to students through education reforms. For the record, the new policy does not change her belief that all students should be given equal privilege from academic possibilities down to the use of bathrooms in schools

 

A Leading Education Advocate

 

For years, Betsy Devos is known for her education advocacy. Together with her husband, Dick Devos, they successfully proposed the expansion of charter schools in their home state. The political duo also got the overwhelming support of several states when they promoted the school vouchers idea even when it was not initially favored in Michigan. A champion of education, Betsy Devos always fights for political issues especially the ones that challenge education reforms.

 

Public Vs. Private Schools

 

Political rivals always point out Betsy Devos’ failure to connect with the sentiments of public schools due to her unequivocal support for private education. They accused her of being insensitive to the problems of average families who can barely afford to send their kids to private schools. However, Betsy Devos remains firm in her belief that challenging traditional schools can lead to improvements. In the case of charter schools, poor parents are given better options to give their children better educational opportunities.

 

Staying Gracious in Public

 

The recent setback does not weaken her stance on policies that she strongly supports. Betsy Devos has always been a fighter but she also believes that being gracious should not be sacrificed in the face of controversy. A strong political figure, she made headlines when she honored colleagues who deserved all the recognition and penalized opponents who defied her. Through it all, staying gracious equates keeping her mind on a certain goal.

 

The Advocacy Continues

 

Despite the constant attacks against her proposals and advocacies, Betsy Devos remains steadfast in raising the standards of education. Beyond the charter schools she champions, she has also rallied behind schools that are managed by private companies in hopes of creating pressures towards the traditional system. The challenge is set on opening a free market of education where parents get to decide what is best for their children

 

Betsy Devos moves to create more plans that will benefit the educational system. She wants to strengthen the education reforms that she has started in her home state to gain leverage in standards and performance. In the face of continuous criticisms from political adversaries, she remains unstoppable.

 

To learn more, visit http://www.betsydevos.com/.