Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is settling in to her job in Washington. While it hasn’t been a cakewalk, she’s learning the ropes. It is undoubtedly a trial by fire. She’s taken a lot shots and criticism with dignity. But the people who know her best, knows she’s tough, a fighter and will persevere.
DeVos is the daughter of wealthy industrialist Edgar Prince. She was born and raised in Holland, Michigan to a family of devoutly religious family that attended the Christian Reformed Church. She also attended Calvin College, a Grand Rapids Christian school. Not long after, she married Dick DeVos, son of Amway founder Richard DeVos.
The couple, who has four grown children, recently arrived back in town for a private celebration of her recent confirmation as Secretary of Education.
Over the years, she and her husband’s foundation has contributed millions to a number of worthy causes and conservative initiatives. They have given a great deal of money to charter schools and voucher programs.
DeVos’s stance on education has much to do with her upbringing. Not just the connection she has with her hometown, but the ties to her ancestral homeland in the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands in the late 19th century, education was roundly debated by progressives who sought secular public schooling and felt that religious schools didn’t deserve the same financial standing. This was the earliest example of school choice.
The philosophy of religious-based schools is a widely-accepted concept adopted by Abraham Kupyer, a theologian who influenced Calvin College.
While this idea seems to be accepted by the Trump Administration, there are still a number of critics pushing back on the issue. While DeVos sees it as an issue of fairness — equal financial treatment for both public schools and private Christian-based schools. But critics see it as a violation of the separation of church and state laws.
DeVos, notably, is against regulation. This has contributed to the deterioration of public schools, according to her critics. Her hard stance against regulation has also put her at odds with other school choice proponents, who agree with school but also believe certain regulations should be in place.
Wayne State University Professor Thomas Pedroni is highly critical of DeVos, stating that her policies have definitely harmed public education. He went on to say that although DeVos is one of the most divisive members of school choice movement, he hopes she will refocus her energy towards the needs of public schools. Learn more: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2017/10/devos_family_stryker_heir_make.html