Betsy DeVos has been very active in political reform in West Michigan and the United States.
She and her husband, Dick DeVos, an influential businessman in Grand Rapids and the region and a former Amway CEO, both support social efforts, including the arts, local leadership, churches and education through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation.
A foremost interest for Betsy DeVos, a former United States Secretary of Education, has been reform in the US educational system. Her proposals include Internet learning, homeschooling, voucher-based private schools and privately directed but publicly funded charter schools, which offer school choice beyond the standard public school system.
Since the voucher program began in the mid-80s, Betsy DeVos reports that thousands of students are now served by private-choice options in several states in the US. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Virginia, Arizona and Florida are among them.
One of DeVos’s incentives was her visit to a local Grand Rapids Christian school serving many low-income families, Potter’s House. Both Betsy and Dick were impressed by how a dedicated and safe environment promoted learning and engagement.
The couple began to dedicate itself to providing similar opportunities for families with no other option but to rely on whichever public school was available in their local area.
Dick became an elected member of the Michigan State Board of Education. The couple also offered scholarships but discovered this option permitted little reach. They discovered a valid option, however, in educational choice through tax credits and vouchers.
Betsy DeVos served in related national charities and created the Great Lakes Education Project, dedicated to charter school expansion in Michigan. The project was successful, leading her to promote the method nationally through the American Federation for Children.
Among the states with the most adoption have been Indiana, Louisiana and Florida. Florida, in particular, met with a favorable response by the public and policymakers. Betsy DeVos reported that tens of thousands of families in Florida now attend schools of choice.
Betsy DeVos believes that public interest in educational reform and school choice has continued to grow through grassroots efforts, paralleling Betsy DeVos’s aim of providing families with opportunities to select optimal educational methods for their children.
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