Betsy DeVos On Topic Article

As Betsy DeVos took office in 2016, many were excited for a new voice in educational reform. DeVos had been a proponent of educational choice for many years before she took office. Her career started in Calvin College where she was politically active and began her studies in educational reform. She worked on Jimmy Carter’s campaign and then branched out into philanthropy, where she started to work with charter schools in an effort to help students in Michigan.

 

However, she has always faced opposition. In fact, she is one of the most polarizing figures in American politics. She has gone across America, championing educational reform, but she has been met with opposition from public school teachers and students alike. What is the issue? DeVos says that it is a lack of information on the issue which is creating the problem.

 

In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, DeVos talked to interviewer Leslie Stahl about the challenges facing America’s education system. Stahl had some tough questions, including whether any of the programs had proven to be successful yet. It has only been a year or so since their implementation, according to DeVos. Standardized testing and educational reform have been around for almost 20 years with very little success.

 

Still, the question remained whether she thought there would be any success for the educational choice movement. DeVos pointed to states where the programs had been fully implemented so far, places like Florida and Louisiana. Florida now has the most selections for educational choice, including magnet programs, virtual schools, homeschooling, charter schools, and private schools. However, it’s the tuition-based scholarship program that has made the most significance. Students are able to go to any school of their choice with these vouchers.

 

While many believe that public school funding is in jeopardy with these new policies, DeVos has shown that much of the vouchers and support has come from philanthropy, including her own foundation. However, some of the other donors include Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton. The new programs have yet to be definitively more effective than standardized testing, but DeVos says that these programs need more time. She still has another couple of years in office to make things work. However, she has not been able to implement as many of the plans as she wanted in different states.

 

In addition, her campaigns have been cut short due to the American school violence and the issue of gun control. She is now in charge of a massive school safety movement that will help America’s schools stay safe in the wake of many school shootings. When asked if she thought that teachers needed gun training, she wasn’t sure that was the direction to go in. She is currently meeting with other legislators to determine different policies and regulations that will help with school safety.

 

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Dick DeVos helps to save Grand Rapids, Michigan, from same fate as Detroit

Grand Rapids, Michigan, is currently one of the most sought-after places to live, work and play of any city in the Midwest. The city has the typically low living costs of other Midwestern areas. But it also has a distinctly cosmopolitan feel, with vibrant nightlife, professional sports teams and many attractions located throughout its expansive borders, including being a standard stop for most of the top concert tours in North America.

 

Grand Rapids’ hip, upscale feel stands in stark contrast to some of its sister cities throughout Michigan. Names like Flint, Detroit and Battle Creek have become almost poisonous, being synonymous with violent crime, urban decay and failing schools. It was this latter category that gave Grand Rapids business leader Dick DeVos his first taste of the extreme menace that urban decay and flight can pose to a city. DeVos had long been involved in educational causes. This took him throughout the state of Michigan where he was involved in designing charter schools and curricula that could help some of the most disadvantaged but talented students achieve their full potential.

 

One of the most challenging projects of DeVos’ career was attempting to find solutions to the deep problems facing the Detroit Public School System. The schools had been largely defunded due to a fleeing tax base. Additionally, the city itself had suffered from brain drain and a general flight of the productive classes. This meant that the population that remained had more problematic students with traits not conducive to academic success. This higher proportion of bad students seriously undermined the effectiveness of the schools for the good students. DeVos eventually solved some of the problems by strictly segregating the best students from the troublemakers. But the entire experience left a deep impression. He knew by the mid-1980s that Detroit was probably lost forever.

 

This was a fate that he did not want to see repeated in his hometown of Grand Rapids, which had already begun to show the early signs of urban decay. DeVos made it his goal to prevent Grand Rapids from beginning the same inexorable spiral into oblivion that had destroyed cities like Detroit, Flint and Battle Creek. He formed an organization of the area’s top business leaders that he called the Grand Action Committee. The organization had one goal: to make strategic investments that would create a critical mass of economic activity, spurring a positive-feedback chain reaction that would ensure growth and long-term prosperity.

 

DeVos wasn’t afraid to literally put his money where his mouth was. He shelled out tens of millions of dollars of his own money, helping to fund the construction of projects like the DeVos Place Convention Center and the Van Andel Arena. He also invested heavily in the creation of the Medical Mile, a one-mile stretch of Michigan Ave that boasts some of the most prestigious medical institutions in the country. These include the Helen DeVos Children’ Hospital, a worldwide mecca for the treatment of certain rare childhood diseases. The Medical Mile has infused billions yearly into the local economy and has attracted world-class specialists from many disciplines.

 

To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.