The fast rise of Betsy Devos in the world of politics must have come as a surprise to many who have known her for decades. While some people bide their time in hopes of getting a place in the political world, this was never the intent of Devos. Instead, she was always looking for ways to make her community better. This usually meant spending money on philanthropy. Alongside her husband Dick, Betsy Devos was known as both a local and national philanthropist, being involved in charitable endeavors while also rebuilding Grand Rapids, Michigan. Still, when the call from Donald Trump came, she knew she had to respond in kind. Betsy Devos the political figure was a distinction many years in the making.
As Secretary of Education, Devos’s primary role has revolved around the movement toward school choice. This is something close to her heart. As young mother, she, like many other parents, had the difficult job of finding a good school for her kids. Where could they go that would give them the best chance to succeed long term? This was the challenge facing many who were looking at struggling Michigan school districts back then. What Devos discovered was that people had a deep passion for their children, but they lacked the available resources to put their kids in good schools.
Devos began to think about the fundamental unfairness of it all. Dissatisfied with what she saw in the public school system, Devos had the ability to take her kids out of that environment. She could move her kids into private schools because her family had money. For the family without that generational wealth, paying for an expensive private school was just not an option. This lit a fire under Devos. How could she help those mothers she had met during the school search process find a great place for their own kids to go?
When the Trump administration came calling, Devos knew that she could use a bigger platform to help promote some of her goals when it came to school choice. She has been able to marshal the resources of the federal government to talk to parents around the country about their goals and needs. Many have told her that school choice would provide them with the ability to find something that fits their child’s needs. From Louisiana to South Carolina to her native Michigan, Devos has spoken with parents who have agreed that something needs to change in the public school system.
While Devos has never loved the idea of getting involved in the ugliness of politics, she has come to see it as a necessary evil. To make change, one has to hang around changemakers. Devos has not only hung around. She has also become one of those important changemakers.
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