Why She Deserves Our Notice:
Sworn in as the Secretary of Education on February 7th, Betsy DeVos is just another controversial pick in an already eclectic cabinet. Best known for her vehement support of for-profit, private, and charter schools, DeVos is also a strong proponent of parental choice and school autonomy. Many people worry that her policies will hurt public schools. While she admitted to being skeptical about the federal government’s roles in such institutions, the staunch Republic went on to insist that “great public schools” should remain available to all families. Until her resignation or the end of the Trump era, she will serve as the driver of educational policies in the United States.
Before assuming her current role, DeVos held a variety of positions in both the private and public sectors. From 1996 to 2000, and again from 2003 to 2005, she served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican party. She was also integral in helping to advocate for and build the well-regarded Detroit charter school system. Throughout the years, Betsy has held high-ranking positions in many educational organizations. Her family also supports a charitable foundation that aims to drive change in education, community, arts, leadership, and justice. A number of large donations to the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation
DeVos was born to Elsa and multi-billionaire industrialist, Edgar Prince, on January 8th of 1958. Suffice to say, her childhood was one of both affluence and opulence. It was also heavily steeped in religion. Betsy was raised a devout member of the Christian Reformed Church of North America. She’d go on to be influenced by one of the founding fathers of Christian Democracy, Abraham Kuyper. This wealthy heiress had to educate more than just her spirit; she had to nurture her mind as well.
She completed her primary education at Holland Christian High. Shortly after her graduation, she enrolled at the Michigan-based Calvin College. While there, Betsy was highly active in both school politics and academics. Four years later, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. At this time, she’s made no effort to continue her education.
Her family is one of Michigan’s wealthiest. Her husband, Richard Marvin “Dick” DeVos Jr., is the heir to the Amway fortune and a major donor to conservative political causes. His father, who owns the Orland Magic, is the 88th wealthiest individual in the United States. In addition to being the wife of a wealthy business owner, Betsy is a mother to four grown children. All of them, unsurprisingly, attended private schools.
- Holland Christian High School: Holland Christian High School is the only grade 9 to 12 building in the Holland Christian Schools system. While the district started in 1901, this building was not opened until 1924. This school offers students more than 11 different clubs, a renovated auditorium, and an advanced science lab. More than 90-percent of students that graduate from this private school attend college. In 2009, this building was home to roughly 850 students.
- Calvin College: Founded decades before Holland Christian High School, Calvin College has been continually operating since 1876 Named after famous Protestant Reformer, John Calvin, this liberal arts college comes with a religious slant. Recently, the school has added a new political science building, a conference center, and a high-end hotel. Enrolled students can choose between more than 109 different majors. The school currently serves around 4,000 students.