Betsy Devos and the Education Reform Movement

Being Betsy Devos has not always meant being one of the federal government’s most powerful figures. The current Secretary of the Department of Education has long cared about providing kids with the best opportunity for success, but she only recently threw her hat into the ring as a government player. Prior to her appointment by Donald Trump, she thought politics was a dirty game that muddied the hands of the people who played it. She wanted nothing to do with it and preferred to make her impact elsewhere. Devos slowly learned over time, though, that if she wanted to make a real impact, she had to be on the inside. With that, she’s taken the step that many of her closest friends would have never expected.


Devos and her husband Dick have been major benefactors in Michigan. Funding the revitalization of Grand Rapids, the Devos family has shown its dedication to forgotten places. For Betsy, though, the real passion has revolved around forgotten people. That’s why she has become one of the country’s fiercest advocates for an education system that treats all children fairly.


Devos first got involved in education in a way that should be familiar to all parents. She had kids who were entering school age. She wanted them to have the best chance at success. However, as she looked at the school options in Michigan, she found that nothing really suit her and her husband’s desires. The schools were poorly funded. In some cases, they were dangerous. She knew that kids who attended these schools would never have the opportunity to have the sort of success that she had. In talking to other parents, she learned that many of them had the same concerns. They wanted something better for their own children.


From these conversations came Devos’s dedication to the school choice movement. She believed then that it was wrong to lock in a parent to a given school based upon where they lived. What if those parents couldn’t afford the cost of a private school? Should they just have to languish as a result? Knowing it wasn’t right, she began to agitate and advocate for new solutions. She has subsequently taken her efforts all the way to Washington, where she has been given a position that allows her to advocate for the kids who have been left behind by the system. There, she has been able to change many minds, moving the nation’s education system forward a tick or two.


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