Betsy DeVos and the Educational Choice Movement

Betsy DeVos is one of the most polarizing figures in America’s political scene. On one hand, she has made it easier for students to go to good schools, but in the other, teachers in public schools have felt forgotten. DeVos has answered a number of questions on this topic, but she has focused mainly on how philanthropy is helping America’s school system, rather than public funding. It’s a slippery slope according to her opponents, but Betsy DeVos manages to make it work.


In a recent interview with “60 Minutes,” DeVos talked to Lesley Stahl about the success and trials with educational choice. This concept isn’t new and started with charter schools in the late 1990s. DeVos has been at the forefront of the movement, creating bills like “Kids First!” Coalition in early 2000s Michigan. While it wasn’t passed, she has continued to fight for education despite those who remark that she hasn’t been a teacher. However, DeVos has always worked in education reform, not business.


She started by creating more possibilities for students to go to charter schools and private schools through philanthropy. She worked with her husband Dick DeVos in Michigan to create a charter school for students who wanted to work as pilots, founding the West Michigan Aviation Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her work with education in Michigan is well-known, but her greatest achievement has been her election to the 11th office of the US Education Secretary.


Stahl had hard-hitting questions for DeVos, such as whether or not the new educational choice programs had any success. DeVos remarked that she was proud of Florida and found that it’s educational programs were the most successful. Currently, Florida has the most educational choice options for students, including magnet programs which allow you to pick another school, private or public, if you live in a failing school zone.


Her critics have said that educational choice opens up the door for public funding for private schools, but DeVos says that’s not the case. Philanthropy has been the main backer of educational choice options and scholarships. In fact, she has donors like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Sam Walton of Wal-Mart who have donated to the educational choice cause.


In addition to her fight for educational reform, DeVos was put in charge of school safety after gun violence erupted in 2018. DeVos has been working with school officials and legislators to create policies that would help students feel safer on campus without adding any more weapons to the situation. DeVos remarked that it was a precarious situation that had to be handled smart in order to protect students and teachers.


For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.