Betsy DeVos has always been a woman that fights tooth and nail for the issues that are important to her. This trait is evident in the devotion she has shown for many years to the school choice movement. Her dogged determination at fighting to secure for parents the right to choose where their parents receive an education has put the world on notice of Ms. DeVos tenacity and resulted in United States President Donald Trump appointing her as the nation’s Secretary of Education.
Philanthropy has been another main area of focus for Betsy DeVos and she has along with her husband Dick DeVos, been known to use the considerable wealth at their disposal to provide large amounts of financial support to the various charitable organizations. It is estimated that the DeVos’ has given nearly $140 million in their lifetimes to various causes and organizations.
The philanthropy of the Betsy and Dick DeVos reinforce the fact that matters of education is a central theme in their lives and careers. In 2015, the couple donated $3 million to educational causes. In addition to this, the couple’s own organization, the DeVos Family Foundation, supported reform in education to the tune of $357,000.
Dick DeVos explains that the commitment he and his wife have to quality education for all children stems from an understanding that the current system of education in our country does not provide the best opportunity for children to fully realize the American dream. Mr. DeVos went on to say that the issue became one that he and his wife began to consider as a civil rights issue as all too often it seemed that children living in particular zip codes were condemned to receiving sub-par educational opportunities.
Those who are critics of the DeVos’ stance on education say that the voucher and charter school programs that the couple champion serve only to weaken the public school system by siphoning money away from these schools. The DeVos’ counter this argument by stating their belief that school choice eliminates the failings of the ‘one-size fits all’ education system that has been in place for much too long. The DeVos’ also make it clear that their criticisms of the current public school system are not meant to be an indictment against the capabilities and good will of school employees.
Betsy and Dick DeVos are also the brains and funding behind the Great Lakes Education Foundation, which advocates for the increased funding for charter schools in the state of Michigan.
In 2010, the couple became the founders of the first charter high school in America with a theme in aviation that they named the West Michigan Aviation Academy. The school began with only 80 students and utilized offices at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The school has grown rapidly and now has its own buildings as well as hundreds of students that travel from multiple counties in the state to attend classes.
The DeVos beam with pride when pointing out that last year’s graduating class included 15 graduates that were also licensed pilots.
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