Dick and Betsy DeVos-Dedicated Reformers

In 1991 when Dick DeVos heard of a plan to open a multi-purpose sports and convention arena in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, he immediately began to lobby against the proposal. At the time, DeVos was in the process of becoming CEO of his family’s business the Amway Corporation.


When DeVos heard the news of the new convention arena, he was worried that it would be detrimental to Grand Rapids. He used the construction of the Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit as an example of how destructive it can be when a sports team like the Pistons or Lions leaves.


This opposition to the building of a convention arena led to the formation of Grand Action. This group consisting of local business leaders was the driving force behind the construction of a variety of facilities in Grand Rapids. These facilities are credited with improving the Grand Rapids skyline while staunching the suburban sprawl.


This opposition from DeVos is just one example of how he has spent his life trying to change policies and institutions. His wife, Betsy DeVos, joins him in being a GOP mega-donor. Their donations have helped them influence significant changes to state laws. These state laws primarily dealt with education and labor state laws.


Betsy DeVos used her influence to further the expansion of charter schools around the state. Dick DeVos was focused more on the labor laws. In 2012, he was a central factor in Michigan changing from an organized labor state to a right to work state. Politics is only one area where the DeVos influence was present.


Through their family fund, Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, they have supported a variety of leadership programs, churches, arts and culture, and other education reform policies. The largest donation went towards building a children’s hospital named after Dick’s mother, Helen DeVos.


Another major initiative the DeVos couple has backed is education reform. One way they have supported educational reform is by establishing an aviation charter high school located at the Grand Rapids International Airport.


Over the years, Betsy DeVos has stated that their educational goals are ensuring low-income children have the same opportunities as their children. Public opinion did not always agree with this philosophy. For example, in 2000, the voters in Michigan prohibited the passing of a law that would create a voucher system paid for by taxes. This defeat eventually led the DeVos to expand the voucher system to twenty-four states.


To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.

All About Betsy Devos

Have you noticed that Betsy DeVos has been doing a lot of interviews lately? She doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything. The first female US Education Secretary has polarized America with her views on education reform, but it’s nothing new. Education reform in America has been a hot topic since the 1980s, which the Reagan Administration published a report on the poor state of public schools.


That trend has continued to now. Many public schools are failing, and even though Common Core and standardized testing has been shown to improve scores, most parents and students are still looking for other options. This is why educational choice has become such a hot topic as well.


DeVos said in a recent interview with “60 Minutes” and Leslie Stahl that she didn’t believe that standardized testing and Common Core Math were the answer to the problems that public curriculum is facing. In fact, she believes that it is an issue with teachers and training that has led to students becoming less and less interested in going to school. Many students are choosing to go with virtual schools and homeschooling, because they are allowed the freedom to learn subjects that they want to learn as well as the core skills that are required by state.


There are also many options with educational choice that are not discussed. Many focus on the private and charter school options, but students can also choose to go into a magnet program at another public school if they wish. Private and charter schools do require vouchers, which has been a contentious point for those who criticize DeVos. However, as she points out, many of the donors and support for these programs doesn’t come from public funding but from philanthropy. Her major supports include Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton.


However, the largest donor to the educational choice movement is the DeVos Family Foundation, which has donated considerably to the charter school movement. While DeVos says that it will still take time to see how these programs are successful, she points to Florida as the most successful state so far. The state has embraced educational choice completely, providing the most options for students. Florida also has a tuition-based scholarship program to support students who want to go to a private school.


Other states are following suit and adding more educational choice options, such as Louisiana and Georgia. DeVos wants to have more states join, but she is also facing other issues with school safety. Much of her focus has been switched over to protecting students and saving schools from gun violence. She has been working with legislators to change how school safety is approached and looking at other ways to protect students. As questions rise over whether teachers will hold guns, Betsy states that it is not the best option but that legislatures are looking at every angle.


Follow Betsy DeVos on twitter for updates.

Betsy DeVos: Overhauling Education

“Betsy DeVos is Publicly Polite, but a Political Fighter” published NYTimes.com discusses the background of the Secretary of Education and why she may not be the person that many people believe her to be. Even though she did not exactly get her way on a recent transgender bathroom issue, she does not give up easily on the things that matter most to her. In fact, she was one of the first people to publicly condemn the decision to rescind that mandate that would allow transgender students to use the bathroom correlating to their preferred genders. She did not stand idly by while that decision was simply made, she was a fierce advocate for the countless students that would have been affected by such a decision.


DeVos was not appointed to her position because she was expected to be a puppet to a larger cause. In her native state of Michigan, she earned a reputation as a formidable politician and crusader for education. In addition to her extensive philanthropy into the field of educational charter schools, she is also a prominent member of the Alliance for School Choice, the Action Institute, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and head of the All Children Mater PAC. In fact, the DeVos family has given over one billion dollars to several charitable organizations throughout much of their career. DeVos also has a lot of political experience as well because she has not only served as a Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman, but she has given extensively to the Republican party as a donor. She knows what it takes to get things done correctly, and she has her eyes on meaningful, positive change.


Her work in Michigan has resulted in one of the largest concentrations of charter schools. This does not mean that DeVos was done with it. She saw a fundamental flaw in both the charter schools and the public schools, a lack of educational standards. Both school types are miles behind their international competitors. This signifies that even in the private sector there are ways that each institution can improve. DeVos has taken this and others into consideration so that she can use them to inform her future decisions. What DeVos wants people to know is that she is not ignorant, she understands the gravity of her position. She was appointed because she is the best person to get the job done and the education system will thank her for it. Learn more: http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/20170127/letter-in-support-of-betsy-devos-for-secretary-of-education