Betsy DeVos was not especially known for being assertive prior to being chosen to join the Trump Administration as education secretary, though she had always been active in promoting a conservative agenda. Explaining that President Trump had rescinded the federal policy that gave transgender students the freedom to use whichever restrooms they personally felt were appropriate, required a firmness that came as a bit of a shock to those who know her then in February of 2017. In light of the fact that DeVos didn’t personally support the measure, her ability to make sure that it was enforced speaks to her commitment to carrying out a challenging job role effectively above all else.
DeVos is not a simple person to sum up. While often perceived as a deeply religious woman who was educated at Holland Christian High school and Calvin College, also a Christian academic institution, she has proven to be more than able to issue policy from within an administration that’s been rife with controversy.
DeVos had never played a role in government prior to entering the White House. She grew up in Michigan and worked for her father’s Auto Parts Company at one point. Her bio can have the sound of that of a small town American girl next door, but DaVos was no stranger to power and influence before accepting her job in Washington DC. Her brother, Eric D Prince, was once chief executive of Blackwater, the private military company that some label an army for hire. Her family was ranked as one of the wealthiest in the United States, according to Forbes in 2016 when their wealth was estimated to be in the range of $5.4 billion.
DeVos has her share of critics who insist that her wealthy upbringing make her a poor advocate for the families her seemingly anti-public education policy most affects. Strategies DeVos has used to drive her education policy forward are also commonly looked upon as detrimental to the future of public schools. Vouchers are a hot-button topic that DeVos has not shied away from promoting in spite of the criticism it stokes, however. She continues to make it clear that she is not part of a national agenda to eliminate public K-12 systems. She’s been unwavering in defining her mission as one that offers parents alternatives to what’s available to them within the districts they’re zoned for.
The media as well as education activists throughout the country, however, continue to distill DeVos’s ideas into sound bites that frame her as an opponent to the very parents she seems to believe her voucher advocacy efforts will actually provide with a greater ability to access higher quality education for their kids.
To learn more, visit www.betsydevos.com.