Betsy DeVos: Education Pioneer

Politician, philanthropist, and businesswoman Betsy DeVos was born in 1958 to the prestigious Prince family, led by billionaire industrialist Edgar Prince. Before becoming the United States Secretary of Education, she was a Republican National Committeewoman and Chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Betsy is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of Amway. Mr. and Mrs. DeVos are known for their many business and philanthropic endeavors. Learn more:





Betsy DeVos has been involved with many foundations, including one that was founded by her and her husband. The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has made contributions totaling nearly $12 million per year in charitable contributions. She has also been involved in many arts and education foundations, becoming a pioneer for education early in her college years. She is a member of multiple charity boards like Kids Hope USA and the Foundation for Excellence in Education.





As a champion of school reform, DeVos had led many political action committees, party organizations, and campaigns. Her biggest claim-to-fame is her advocacy for education reform. She believes that the country should provide more choices in education outside of the public-school system. This is done via charter schools and private schools, which use financial assistance programs and vouchers to equalize student’s incomes.





Wisconsin was the first state to institute a private-school voucher program, and more than 25 years later, DeVos is proud that there are now more than 250,000 students in 33 choice-programs, in 17 states. She expects that even more people will enjoy the freedom of choice, as they see public school systems not succeeding. After seeing the unfairness of private schools throughout the years, Betsy wishes for everyone to have access to great, private education, regardless of income level.





After having children that were entering in the school system, Betsy and her husband found it their duty to help families in their choice of education for their children. She began creating scholarship programs, but Betsy and Dick quickly delved deeper. Through political action, she became a champion for educational choice.





Thus far, Florida, Louisiana, and Indiana are the program’s biggest successes. In Florida, more than 50,000 children are attending the school they choose. In Louisiana and Indiana, new programs were passed that have the potential to help almost 1 million children every year. As a bi-partisan issue, education is beginning to expand beyond the one-size-fits-all public school.





While many accuse DeVos of being greedy, she claims she is only focused on educational choice. She wants to change the status quo so that students may not be assigned to a school just because of where they reside in their zip code, or because of their income status. DeVos believes every American should be able to make a choice for their children’s education, whether it is public, private, charter, or at home. According to Betsy DeVos, the opportunity to choose the best education setting for their children should be a part of the American dream.