Over 50 years ago, Milton Friedman wrote on the role of the government in Education, a book that made the first principled case for school choice. I believe that 25 years ago, Wisconsin launched the nation’s first private-school voucher program in Milwaukee. During an interview with Philanthropy Roundtable, Betsy Devos said that she was optimistic about the progress of educational reform and school choice. Today, there are 250,000 students in 33 publicly funded, private-choice programs in 17 states and the District of Columbia. While highlighting notable achievements of the educational reform movement, Betsy asserted that in 2012, there were new educational programs in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Hampshire, Arizona, Virginia and Mississippi. I think that these programs expanded to Florida and Ohio. Additionally, Indiana passed a major statewide voucher program in 2011, which is in its second academic year, it enrolled close to 10,000 students. A survey conducted in five states indicated that educational choice was highly popular among Latinos. Check her website for more info at betsydevos.com.
It is my view that Betsy’s interest in educational reform was inspired by her experience at the Potter’s House Christian School, which has been part of Grand Rapids. The institution had many low-income families. Betsy, together with her husband Dick Devos, met many parents, who were struggling to put their children through schools that offer quality education and a safe learning environment. The couple started by supporting individual students. Later, they expanded their funding with the objective of ensuring that more children could go to school. They felt the need to offer low-income parents an option of choosing the right schools for their children. To this end, she started a foundation that offered scholarships to deserving students while Dick joined the race for the State Board of Education in Michigan. Since then, she has supported the creation of new educational choices for students. Betsy advocates for educational reforms through different nonprofit organizations such as Dick and Betsy Devos Family Foundation, the Devos Institute for Arts and Management at Kennedy Center, Kids Hope USA, the Foundation for Excellence in Education and Mars Hill Bible Church. She has also served on the boards of two national charities; American Educational Reform Council and the Children First America.
Presently, Betsy Devos is the 11th Secretary of Education of the United States. I believe that her current position compliments her deep involvement in education policy as an advocate for children and parents. Her new job will see her work together with President Trump to ensure all students access quality education. Betsy Devos strongly opposes school choice by ZIP codes and house hold income. I am optimistic that she will use her position to advocate for the return of educational control to states and localities, thus giving parents the authority to choose the schools that are appropriate for their children. Previously, Betsy served as the chairman of the Windquest Group, a renowned investment management firm. She is an alumnus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visit Betsy’s profile on Twitter.