Category Archives: Politics

Betsy Devos: Charter School Advocate

Appearances can be deceiving. Many opponents of Betsy DeVos have discovered just how true that can be. At first glance, Ms. DeVos appears to be a soft-spoken and impeccably groomed lady who is generous to a fault. Less obvious is the fact that she’s passionate about her work and her commitment to providing a quality education for all students, and she is fearless and aggressive in the pursuit of those objectives. Those who disagree with her often find themselves on the losing end of the battle.


A native of Holland, Michigan the 59-year-old DeVos believes wholeheartedly in charter schools that are funded through vouchers or a system similar to vouchers. Born to very wealthy parents, Ms. DeVos attended a Christian private school as a child, as did her children, and so may be unfamiliar with the difficulty that the average working-class parents have in providing a quality education for their children. Opponents of charter schools accuse her of wanting to erode the quality of the public school system and drain its resources in order to fund the charter schools. Advocates of charter schools argue that they provide better choices to the working class because they create competition for the public school system, which often provides a very poor education for its students.


Ms. DeVos takes her concept of charter schools a step further than most and advocates that they should be run by a for-profit organization without performance standards to regulate them. She proposes that the free enterprise system will be a better option for maintaining quality schools and providing parents with better options. This was reinforced by her recent trip to a Washington public school where the teachers seemed to lack initiative and instead waited to be told what to do next.


Detroit’s public school system includes one of the highest concentrations of charter schools but their output is among the lowest in the nation. Legislation was introduced last year to close the failing charter schools and establish standards for new ones, but the Great Lakes Education Project, founded by Betsy DeVos, successfully defeated the legislation. She believes the Detroit public school system should be closed. She understands that even the best of public schools in the United States under-perform when compared to schools in other countries. She is criticized for working with rapper Pitbull to develop charter schools in Florida but they are rapidly gaining in popularity.


Ms. DeVos is not in agreement with the spurious “separation of church and state” argument that many of her opponents use against her concept for charter schools.


Although friends indicate that she felt that her Senate confirmation, passed by 51-50 after a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence, portrayed her as ignorant, she felt the criticisms lodged against her didn’t merit a response. After her appointment, she immediately attempted to speak with the two leaders of the major teachers’ unions, Ms. Weingarten and Ms. Eskelsen Garcia. Only Ms. Weingarten would speak to her however which Ms. Eskelsen Garcia may regret. Ms. DeVos is quite adept at power politics and has a reputation for getting what she wants.


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