Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is an interesting, if complicated figure. Publicly, she presents a polite, even reticent, demeanor, but behind the scenes she has proven herself to be a fighter for her causes. For example, in 2017, she fought against Trump’s revocation of a policy that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom of their gender identity. While she publicly accepted her defeat without even letting on that she had been on the other side of the fight, in private she met with a government LBGQT representative to let him know what was coming.
Through her years in politics as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and a funder of the Republican Party, DeVos has proven herself to be a fierce contender, albeit in a less public manner than other politicians. Her public reticence has proven successful for her, as she is often underestimated. Many believe that although she is new to Washington, she will eventually figure out the inner-workings and get what she wants.
In DeVos’s home state of Michigan, she grew up in a wealthy family and married into an even wealthier family, but most agree that she uses much more than her money to achieve her goals. A long proponent of charter schools, she has fought to install them in Michigan, particularly in Detroit. Even when some of those same charter schools reported low levels of achievement, DeVos has maintained her position. DeVos has argued that the school system should be a free market, with parents guiding the school systems by having a choice in what school their children attend.
DeVos is not a fan of the public school system. While many supporters of the public school system point to well-performing schools in the US, DeVos and others have argued that even America’s best public schools are still below high-performing schools in other countries.
Now DeVos is bringing her educational philosophies to Washington. Just last year, she toured a charter school in Washington, DC, praising the school for its accomplishments and touting the importance of parents’ choice in education. She then traveled to Florida to tour several schools. DeVos is a supporter of the state’s governor, Jeb Bush, who has long supported charter schools and voucher systems. DeVos even visited rapper Pitbull’s Miami-based charter school, SLAM, and spoke alongside him about the importance of education.
Despite her strong ideologies, DeVos had a rough start in Washington. She wavered on some of her answers about education policy and federal law during her Senate confirmation hearings. She even made a comment about school officials and guns that was reportedly a joke but earned her some ridicule on parody television shows.
Despite her issues, the Senate approved her with a 50-51 vote. Vice-President Mike Pence actually made the tie-breaking vote.
Even though the media has poked fun at her, DeVos has declined to react. She seems to be more focused on getting her job done than spending time worrying what people think. Some even say that adversity only makes her stronger and she will get what she wants.
To learn more, visit www.betsydevos.com.