Although many Michigan residents don’t like the political leanings of Betsy DeVos, they know of her to be a very generous and pragmatic person.
DeVos grew up in Michigan, well-known for her upbringing within a wealthy family. She attended a Christian school, which explains her deep affection for charter schools and her belief that they should receive public funding equal to that of public schools.
Despite her heavily conservative stance and placement within the Trump Administration, Betsy DeVos warned representatives of transgender employees at the Department of Education of President Trump’s rescinding of the federal policy allowing transgender students to use the restrooms that coincide with their gender identity. An aide gave reassurance that DeVos was against the rescinding of the law.
Whether DeVos publicly resists is left to be seen. However, she is known in Michigan as a political fighter. Despite her generous nature, she has also used her financial and political power in Michigan to unseat lawmakers and punish those that were against her. When she puts her mind to something, she doesn’t give up. This is why the expectation is for her to eventually get her way as she learns the ropes of her position and strengthens the staff working with her.
However, there is concern about her lack of history with the public-school system. DeVos’s experience with educational institutions lie solely with private ones, as she and her husband received private educations and so did their children. She strongly believes in voucher programs that pay for tuition at private institutions using public funds. Opponents state that this would starve the public education system of resources. Supporters claim that poorer families would have more flexibility in choosing the right educations for their children.
However, Michigan could be a good litmus test as to what a saturated private school sector could do to the quality of education. Michigan has such a high concentration of private schools that there aren’t enough students to fill them, resulting in low performance. Then again, the Detroit Public School system is rated the worst in the nation, which may mean that the Michigan education system, both private and public, needs a major overhaul and a significant amount of oversight. Some of this is being pursued with legislation that seeks to shut down poorly performing charter schools.
DeVos gave reassurance during her confirmation hearing that nothing would change in regard to a majority of American students attending public school. Those close to her have said she has a solid understanding of the fact that even the best public schools in the U.S. don’t perform as well as those in other countries.
While DeVos’s introduction to the country was shaky, she maintains her steely persona and lets it roll off her back because opposition simply makes her stronger. Despite the answers given during her confirmation hearing, which many people claim has much to do with the questions asked, she knows how to navigate politics and be the power player she needs to be.
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