Education, Philanthropy

How Betsy DeVos Became Interested In School Choice

Betsy DeVos was an early leader in the educational reform movement. In the 1980’s she, along with her husband Dick, visited a private school which is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan that is called Potter’s House Christian School. While visiting they had conversations with the low-income parents of students who were making huge sacrifices in order to provide their children with an educational facility that was safe, effective, and filled with curious children who wanted to understand the world. Betsy and Dick kept going back to Potter’s House Christian School and eventually started paying the tuition costs of a large number of students who have attended the school ever since.

One of the problems in the United States that Betsy DeVos has pointed out is that educational outcomes are far too dependent on the zip code that children are living in. Rich communities have great schools while poor communities have dysfunctional schools with high dropout rates. She believes that providing parents and students with school choice, where they can attend charter schools instead of public schools, will lead to more children receiving the education that they deserve. She believes this can be accomplished in part by educational reforms such as tax credits, education savings accounts, vouchers, and other means. Check this related article from nypost.com.

In addition to providing donations to educational reform organizations, Betsy DeVos has also served on the board of these organizations. She has been a board member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Kids Hope USA, the Alliance for School Choice, and the American Federation for Children. She has lent her expertise and enthusiasm to these organization in order to further the expansion of school choice across the United States. So far, there are 33 private choice programs in 25 states in the U.S. plus in Washington D.C.

Betsy DeVos was appointed the U.S. Secretary of Education in early 2017, after President Trump started his term. Her interest in education was sparked early as her mother was a public school teacher. Once her own children started attending school, it dawned on Betsy that not every child in America gets a quality education like her children were receiving. She decided to become an advocate for these children as well as their parents who needed a voice in the quality of education their children were receiving. She believes that neither the parent’s income or the zip code of children should determine whether or not they receive the education they deserve.

Outside of her interest in education, Betsy has also been a business leader, serving as the Chairman of the Windquest Group which is an investment firm that specializes in industry and green technology. She has also served on a variety of boards for nonprofits in areas such as the arts and community building.

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