Betsy Devos the Reformer

Besty Devos involvement in the public domain can be traced back to several decades ago to Calvin College where she undertook her vocation while being involved in campus politics. Devos has in the last 30 years led a variety of campaigns, political action committee, party organizations and was the Chairperson of the Michigan Republic Committee for six years.


Whether in politics or business, you can count on Devos to come up with innovative ideas to address social problems. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the privately held Windquest Group that has invested in clean energy, manufacturing, and technology. In an interview with Philanthropy Round Table, Besty Devos opened up about her work and reforms in the education sector.


Devos on the Role of Government In Education


In the interview, Devos was asked about the government’s progress in education in the last 25 years. She is of the opinion that public schools are not succeeding as much as people would have hoped. The fact that they’re failing has helped people to be more open to radical reforms in the education sector.


Her Involvement in Education-Choice Movement


According to Devos, there was no one thing that drew her to the course. It was more of a gradual process that was influenced by several factors. Devos together with her husband visited Potter’s House Christian School to look for an opportunity for their school-age children. She interacted with parents who were passionate about looking for a safe space for their children.


Their experience kept them wanting to go back every time. For some parents in the school, paying for tuition was a big sacrifice. Devos and her husband started supporting children at the school before the commitment grew into something bigger.


Biggest Successes


Ms. Devos said that one of her biggest successes has to be Florida’s Widespread educational choice program which currently has over 50,000 students attending the school of their family’s choice. Florida can be used as a case study on how the system works. If the program is done well, there will be no point in defending the programs you’ve passed.


According to Devos, there have also been major milestones achieved in Indiana and Lousiana. The two state programs have the potential of serving more than a million students if fully implemented. The focus should also be in helping to get the right people elected. She said that for real choice to be successful, education needs to be made a bipartisan issue. It hasn’t been the case even recently with Democrats siding with the teacher’s union.


Other Reform Strategies


Devos is against restricting a student’s choice of school based on the family’s zip code. There should be as much freedom as possible when it comes to choice. She is also excited about technology. Schools will no longer be equated to just “buildings”. Blending digital learning also contributes to the education-choice movement. Charter-schools are also a valid choice according to Besty Devos. It could take a while before they’re up and running but it does pay off in the long run.


For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.

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