Children around the country express themselves in different ways and develop different interests over the course of their childhood. However, the common aspect among all children is the requirement to attend school for at least 12 years of their life. Public school is the most accessible option to most families, but there are some who believe their child deserves a specific environment. Betsy DeVos was a parent in that exact position when her child was first starting to attend to school. She learned about the private option, and began a lifelong career of expanding options for children across the country. An interview from 2013 with Philanthropy Roundtable reflects on this period in her life before later taking her ideas to a national scale.
Philanthropy begins the interview by framing how far education has come in recent decades. It has been 50 years since the first case for school choice was proposed by Milton Friedman. Secondly, it was 25 years ago when Wisconsin became the first state to launch a program. Betsy DeVos is amazed by how far the options have come, especially since she entered the fight. She cites at least 17 states with programs in place, and several more that are on the verge of becoming law. Betsy DeVos has been an important figure in pursing the program expansion into the 21st century.
In the interview, Betsy DeVos reflects back on her career up to this point. She can’t cite a single incident that got her involved in the industry but rather her desire for student choice options grew over the course of years. Betsy DeVos remembers the first time she and her husband were introduced to the idea through Potter’s House Christian School. It was a private school that taught their students character building skills in a safe and secure environment. They were awe struck by the number of parents who wanted to get their children into the program dispute the insufficient means to do so. This was the moment when she steadily put more and more attention towards these types of programs.
As the 1990s rolled into the turn of the turn of century, Betsy DeVos and her husband took her activism to several fronts from charity to government roles. They both wanted to give parents the resources to send to their child to the perfect school. Betsy DeVos worked towards this goal by creating a scholarship program for low income families. While her husband took the fight to inside the government by being elected to the Michigan State Board of Education. Together they had pushed for their vision across numerous states and started discussions.
When looking back at everything up to this point, Betsy DeVos believes the greatest push for her vision came out of Florida. That state offers students the greatest amount of choice, but she acknowledges efforts made in other regions. She currently sits in a high position in the Trump administration, from which she can support school choice on a new scale.
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