For more than three decades, Betsy DeVos has devoted herself to the creation of alternatives to a public-school education system that fails the most at-risk students. For this, she has earned ire from the left. Defenders of the status quo were none too pleased when Mrs. DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education last month.
Through activism, Betsy DeVos has pushed hard for educational choice. Whether that choice is a charter school, private school voucher, or merely tuition tax credit. In Michigan, she was a champion of the charter-school law, which gave children of low-income families the ability to attend any school of their choice, regardless of their capacity to pay. For several years, Secretary DeVos has chaired the American Federation for Children, an organization whose goal it is to break down the obstacles to educational choice by empowering parents.
While she has been criticized for the less than stellar performance of some of Detroit’s charters, detractors fail to mention that the private schools there have far and away outperformed the city’s public schools. The comparison of the only two options parents in that town have is really the only relevant metric. In Detroit, the public education system has failed abysmally for several generations. According to Forbes Magazine around one-half the adults living in Detroit are unable to functionally read or write.
Secretary DeVos comes from a family that has worked hard to achieve a substantial wealth. The family has strong Christian values that include giving to those less fortunate. In 2015, the DeVos family was ranked by Forbes Magazine #20 of the Top Fifty Givers. The article states that the family has contributed $1.2 billion to various charities and $94 million in the year 2014, alone.
That year the DeVos family gave substantial donations to the following charities:
* $2.1 million went to help ArtPrize
* $3.1 million in donations were made to Hope College
* $1.1 million was donated to The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
* $2.6 million was presented to The Spectrum Hospital and Health Foundation
* $2.1 million was given to The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital & Foundation
* $1 million went to Mary Free-Bed Rehab Hospital
* $2.9 million was given to The Grand Valley State University
In addition to these major donations, the DeVos family contributed to more than one hundred various other charities and causes.
It is important to note that the contributions listed, do not include the significant donations the family has given to advance important state and national political causes and civic causes like the school voucher program in Michigan.
Secretary Betsy Devos is no stranger to controversy. In a heavily unionized state like Michigan, she has certainly ruffled some feathers. But there is good indication that she will continue to promote the cause of school choice and make every effort to move the voucher program to the Federal level.