Betsy Devos, President Trump’s appointee for secretary of education, has caused quite a stir in a short amount of time. She might be a key in some of Trump’s most controversial policies, as shown by her response to his lifting of an Obama-era policy that allows transgender students to use school bathrooms based on their gender identities.
The Michigan billionaire said that Trump’s lifting of the policy was a matter of undoing “a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach.”
Aside from that, Devos has also raised eyebrows for being appointed secretary of education, a position that deals with public school policies. Devos doesn’t seem to have particularly strong ties to public schools. None of her children have attended one and she has been a proponent of charter schools.
Although Devos was ultimately confirmed by the Senate, it was by a rather slim margin. She was approved with a victory of 51-50. The 100 senators were evenly split, meaning newly-inaugurated Vice President Mike Pence had to cast the tie-breaking vote, a very unlikely occurrence.
Despite her perceived opposition to public schools, Devos has corresponded with major figures in the public school system. She phoned Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelan Garciá, heads of the two most prominent teachers’ unions in the country. Weingarten returned the call and agreed to visit schools with Devos, a sign that Devos could be playing smart in order to see results.
Devos and her supporters argue that she’s not looking to dismantle public schools but rather to improve them in order to better compete with test scores from other countries, and to give more options to families, such as charter schools and voucher programs. Those who oppose her policies say that they will serve to undermine public schools in favor of charter schools, which they find dubious in terms of pros.
While Devos’ actions and policies with education have been largely chastised, those from Michigan champion her work at home, before she was confirmed. She and her husband Dick Devos, whose family founded Amway, have been lauded for their altruism, with over $130 million in donations.
Even outside of Washington, Devos has been making some important connections. She spoke with rapper Pitbull at a charter school he opened in Miami, to advocate for the school choice. An unlikely pair? Yes, but Devos’ outsider status and thinking outside the box could really serve her well.
Visit http://www.betsydevos.com/ to learn more.