Just after Betsy DeVos’s was confirmed by a 51-50 Senate vote, President Donald Trump rescinded the federal policy passed during President Barack Obama’s administration regarding bathrooms. While Betsy DeVos didn’t agree, she went along to get along.
In light of those events, some may get the wrong idea about DeVos. She is a fighter. She may come off as polite and soft-spoken, but she’s been in the game for a long, long time.
Before she was chosen Education Secretary, she was a household name in Michigan conservative politics. Not only did she head the Michigan Republican Party, she also was a staunch advocate for school choice. Both she, and her husband, billionaire heir to the Amway fortune, Dick DeVos, have worked hard to get a charter school on every corner.
Many accuse her of wanting to do away with public schools altogether — an accusation she denies.
Regardless, they have kept up the good fight. Sometimes she’s won. Sometimes she’s lost. But make no mistake, she has enough money and clout to make her detractors pay at the election booth.
DeVos, who was born and raised in Holland, Michigan, also comes for a billionaire family. Not quite as rich as the DeVoses, but wealthy, just the same.
One of the biggest knocks against her is that she arrived in Washington with little experience in education. Also, being from an ultra-wealthy family, critics ask how she could possibly grasp the woes of individuals who can’t pay for their children’s college? And how can you run the Department of Education and you have never taken out a student loan and have no experience with Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
DeVos says she’s learning the ropes. But it has been a bit of a learning curb.
Randi Weingarten, President of the National Association of Teachers says “She’s dangerous. People have a tendency to underestimate her.”
Some of her critics and allies agree.
“People who try to go against her only embolden her,” said Michigan Party Republican Mike Cox.
Despite the criticism and first few rough weeks, DeVos says she’s looking forward to finding common ground. She insists that her life of privilege will not keep her from understanding people who aren’t as fortunate.
Even her loudest detractors are hoping that she will be successful. “She has to be for the sake of our children,” said Weingarten.
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