I first heard of Betsy DeVos when she was brought into serve as the United States Secretary of Education after being nominated by President Trump, the 2016 nominee for the Republican party. As the 11th different Secretary of Education in the history of the United States, Betsy DeVos carries with her a heavy burden and high expectations. DeVos was chosen for the role thanks to her focus on school choice and that is what many people will expect her to carry out in the future. Betsy DeVos revealed some of the reasons she believes in school choice as well as the path that got her to this decision.Believe it or not the concept of school choice wasn’t always very popular. In fact, it took the works of Milton Friedman, author of ‘The Role of Government in Education‘, in order for the topic to even broach mainstream audiences.
That work was written over fifty years ago and the first state to adopt school choice was Wisconsin, just 25 years ago. Betsy DeVos admits that the timeline is pretty startling but that she feels very good about it. DeVos points out, “Today there area bout 250,000 students in 33 publicly funded, private choice programs.” Those numbers are eye popping and they span 17 different states. School choice is spreading.Betsy DeVos has been part of the school choice movement since before it was the ‘in’ thing to do. DeVos points back to her time with her husband, Dick DeVos, when they were shopping around for school options for children. They wanted to do what was best for their kids, obviously, and that meant looking at everything. School choice eventually made the most sense. DeVos remembers visiting the Potter’s House Christian School nearly 30 years ago and seeing how it was so different than regular public school.
DeVos said, “The atmosphere was just electric with curiosity, with love for one another.” Since then the has consistently supported the Potter’s House Christian School.While DeVos may be a new name in the federal government she is far from being a rookie in the role of good, hard work. Throughout the ’90s Betsy DeVos served on two different 501(C)(3) charities: Children First America as well as American Education Reform Council. Her goal on both of these charity boards was to spread the concept of school choice in order to make it possible for anyone to engage in. DeVos and her husband were also pivotal in opening the first charter-school bill for Michigan back in 1993. During this same time span Betsy DeVos also served as the Chair for the Michigan Republican Party. Now, DeVos is bringing this experience to Washington D.C. where she hopes to enact sweeping change.