It’s been a long road for Betsy DeVos. She started out at Calvin College, getting interested in politics at an early age. She also wanted to learn about education reform and began to look at alternative paths for underprivileged children. While this started in the 1990s, DeVos had already been working with Republican party leaders before that. In the early 2000s, she led a movement in Michigan to change the state’s policies towards educational choice.
Educational choice has been a polarizing topic for many families in the United States. Betsy DeVos is a huge proponent of the programs, and she has spoken about it in several interviews. She recently talked to Leslie Stahl on “60 Minutes” about the success of these programs, indicating that she had seen the most growth in two states Louisiana and Florida. These states have the most educational choice programs, much to the dismay of many in the public school system.
So why don’t people like educational choice and Betsy DeVos?
For one, educational choice seems to be a catch-all program to help students go to the school of their choice. However, many students and teachers have spoken out that it’s actually taking tax dollars to send students to private schools. To this, Betsy DeVos shakes her head. She stated in her interview with Stahl that this isn’t how the program works nor does it seek to take away any funding.
In fact, educational choice is funded through philanthropy and donations. DeVos has some of the biggest backers in the tech world on her side, such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Bill Gates of Microsoft. She even has donors like Sam Walton on her list. She has also donated over $35 million to the cause.
So what is educational choice?
Educational choice is the option for students to pick where they want to go to school instead of going to school where they are zoned. The problem is that some states are providing programs for students to go to private schools. While DeVos contends the funds are not public tax dollars, it’s easy to see the confusion. In fact, many of the programs are paid for with funding and help from the DeVos Family Foundation.
It’s clear that DeVos is just trying to help students and has made it her goal to prioritize students first. She spoke out about how students have been affected by failing schools and former policies of previous administrations, such as Common Core. However, there has been little done to improve other areas of education, and now she has less than two years to figure out how to incorporate educational choice in more areas.
DeVos will continue to work on educational choice until 2020.
For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.