Within hours of President Trump’s announcement that he was revoking a federal policy that would allow transgender students access to school bathrooms that coincide with their personal preference for gender identity, Betsy DeVos and a representative of gay and transgender employees had a meeting at the Education Department in Washington.
DeVos’ message to the employee was one of caution of the announcement that was to come as well as to make it clear that she was resistant to this decision by the President even though she had publicly stood with the President during his announcement on this issue. She also spoke at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and specifically criticized the federal guidelines on this issue as “a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach.”
DeVos, a well-known voice for more charter schools and vouchers for school of choice as well as a past chairwoman and prominent donor to the Michigan Republican Party, is not a behind-the-scenes participant when it comes to school issues. She has a reputation in Michigan for being a passionate and tireless advocate. She also has a magnitude of family wealth to back it up. This fortune works to not only help allies in her cause but to bring down anyone who is working against her cause. This includes politicians and the legislation they try to impose that will work against her vision for school reform. Now, she is a central figure in Washington in the Education Dept. even though she no background in government agencies or for that matter, with President Trump.
DeVos, 59, grew up in Holland, MI in a strong Christian, conservative household to billionaire parents her gave her a private school education. Her father owned an auto parts company and was politically motivated to give support to any politicians that mirrored his beliefs. Her brother, Erik D. Prince, was the founder of the security company Blackwater, which stirred controversy over its contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. She married into the wealthy DeVos family whose son, Dick DeVos is one of the heirs to the Amway Corporation. Their children, as Betsy and her husband did, all attended private schools.
Betsy DeVos has devoted the last thirty years to supporting any legislation that will put tax dollars into charter schools. These schools, run by private companies, are considered by critics to be the means by which DeVos and supporters like her want to get rid of public education. This includes support for school vouchers to pay for private school for students including religion-based schools.
Shortly after President Trump took office, the Senate confirmed DeVos as Secretary of the Education Department of the United States with a tiebreaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence of 51-50. One of her first actions as Secretary was to call upon the two heads of the major teachers’ unions, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, and Eskelsen Garcia, leader of the National Education Association. Many found this to be a good move on the part of DeVos. “It was a smart move,” proclaimed Greg McNeilly, a Republican strategist, “People in Washington will find out, opposition only emboldens her. She knows how to play power politics.”
Visit www.betsydevos.com to learn more.