Betsy Devos and Education
Betsy Devos has been politically active since her college years. She is reformer and has led a variety of campaigns, political action committees, and party organizations. Her husband, Dick Devos, is also interested in reform. In 2006, he was the Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan. Together, the couple have worked to address social issues and are particularly well-known for their work with private school voucher programs.
In an interview with Philanthropy, Betsy Devos said that she had never felt more optimistic about the progress that had been made with private school voucher programs. She mentioned that there were 33 publicly funded programs that were providing an education to around 250,000 students in the District of Columbia and 17 states. She felt that as the public became more aware of the failing public school systems, they would support radical reforms, like tax credits, vouchers, and education savings accounts.
It was a gradual process that caused Betsy Devos to show an interest in education. In her interview, she mentioned an occasion when she and her husband visited Potter’s House Christian School, which is in Grand Rapids, when her children were school-aged. While they were there, they met parents who were doing all they could to create a safe environment where their children could get a good education. They visited multiple times and began helping individuals at the school. They still support that school at a significant level.
Supporting one school led to where they are today. They realized that their children were able to access a good education because they could afford to pay to tuition. However, parents in low-income families were at a disadvantage. This led to Dick Devos running for the State Board of Education in Michigan and being elected in 1991. They eventually started a foundation to give scholarships to children in low-income families.
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