Long before her ascension to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos was in the trenches working on grassroots education reform. Working with husband Dick DeVos, the pair funded both a public school voucher campaign and private charity aimed at giving parents of all income levels more choice for their children’s education. The DeVos family spearheaded a 2000 campaign for school vouchers in the State of Michigan. The proposal would have allowed school children to use taxpayer dollars to attend the private school of their choice.
Voters rejected the proposal by a large margin. Then, in 2006, voters chose Democrat incumbent Jennifer Granholm to serve another term as Governor instead of Dick DeVos. However, Dick and Betsy DeVos weren’t about to give up on their goals to bring positive change to the world of education.
The DeVos family took their education campaign elsewhere. In part because of their efforts, slightly less than half of U.S. states now allow private school vouchers in some form. They say it’s all about giving students and parents more choices.
Their efforts were enough to impress incoming U.S. President Donald Trump. In part because of the DeVos family efforts to bring about school choice, Trump selected Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education. DeVos is not without political experience having chaired the Michigan Republican Party and having served in student government while attending Calvin College.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos’ appointment as Secretary of Education by only a slim margin. Her appointment was controversial. Some said that DeVos was not qualified for the post because she hasn’t worked as a public school teacher. She testified at her confirmation hearing that she believes guns may be appropriate in rural schools in order to defend against wild animals that may want to harm students. Supporters say that DeVos is a bold advocate for change.
The DeVos family continues to have a presence in the Grand Rapids area. Dick DeVos is from the greater Grand Rapids area. Betsy DeVos is from Holland. The two began dating while attending Calvin College. They married shortly thereafter. They have raised their family in Grand Rapids and sent them to local Christian school Grand Rapids Christian High School. Their eldest son also attended Calvin College. They have contributed to several civic and business projects in the downtown Grand Rapids area including DeVos Place and the J.W. Marriott downtown Grand Rapids.
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