Betsy Devos may cut a strong profile now as a reformer, but it was not always this way. Her and her husband Dick used to be more comfortable working locally, bringing about change in their native Michigan. It was there that they raised their children, that Dick built his fortune with Amway and that the family decided to invest so much in the arts in downtown Grand Rapids. It might seem strange, then, to think that the Devos crew would find itself in the middle of the Trump administration and political conversations all over America. That’s where Betsy is, though, and she is finding herself more and more comfortable.
Those who know Betsy Devos did not think she would ever want to get involved in the games that Washington politicians have to play. In Washington, those who get things done often do so through glad-handing. They have to smile the smiles and fake their lives. This was not Devos’s way, but she has learned in her service to the Trump administration that politics can be done in another way. Specifically, she came to Washington intent on being a reformer, and she has largely achieved that goal through her first year and a half.
The passion for education began quite early for Betsy Devos. She was trying to find a school that was suitable for her own children. In looking, she found school after school that just did not live up to the standards she had set. Some did not have the resources or funding. Some were not safe. Some were not teaching students the skills they need to get a job in the modern era. She saw so many problems, and more, she saw parents who were struggling with the same things. While the Devos family had enough money to send their kids to fancy prep schools if they needed to, she recognized that many parents were not so lucky.
This sparked her desire to push for school choice and vouchers. Why should a parent be stuck with choices among bad schools just because they do not have the money she has? It was a sensible question then, and it has driven her in her efforts in Washington. Over the last year or so, she has started to see some progress. Parents in many states have figured out that there is much to be gained by having a more open system. This has driven Devos to keep going.
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