Mrs. Betsy DeVos, the United States Sectary of Education, has been involved in a number of campaigns, political action committees, and party organizations for more than 30 years. She served as the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for six years, and she is currently the chairman of the Alliance for School Choice, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, and the American Federation for Children. In addition, she is a member of local and national organizations that include Mars Hill Bible Church, Kids Hope USA, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and the DeVos Institute for Arts Management at the Kennedy Center. During an interview with Philanthropy, she explained why she is dedicated to educational reform.
Mrs. DeVos explained that she is pleased with the progression of educational reform. There are roughly 250,000 students from 17 states that attend 33 private-choice programs, which are publicly funded. She explained that her biggest success was the tax-credit scholarship program in Florida, which has the longest period of educational choice in the United States. There are currently more than 50,000 students in Florida who are able to attend their school of choice because of this program. She also mentioned that Louisiana and Indiana were making great strides with the freedom of educational choice.
Her devotion to reforming education started during the 1990s. During this time, she served on two national boards that include the Children First America and the American Education Reform Council. These boards helped expand freedom of educational choice with tax-credit scholarships and vouchers. Mrs. DeVos feels that children should not be restricted to attend a specific school based on the where they live. She believes that each child in the United States has the right to a quality education.
Mrs. DeVos feels that the use of technology could help expand educational choice, and she also feels that homeschooling is a valid option for parents who want more control of their children’s education. In addition, she also wants to expand the educational choice movement by allowing students to use vouchers and tax credits to attend charter schools, magnet schools, and virtual schools. She explained that her husband started a charter school at the Gerald Ford Airport in Grand Rapids that focuses on helping students prepare for a career in the aviation industry. The West Michigan Aviation Academy is tuition-free free charter high school that has students from all over Michigan.
Betsy DeVos and her husband are both heirs to family fortunes, and they have made generous donations to a variety of charities for many years. Forbes ranked the family 24th on the list of America’s Top Givers. In 2015, the couple donated $11.6 million in charitable donations. According to Forbes, the family has donated an estimated $1.33 billion, which is nearly a quarter of their $5.2 billion fortune.
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