Betsy Devos is a philanthropist with an interest in school reform. After visiting the Potter House Christian School with her husband she realized how much lower income families required assistance. She met parents who were doing everything possible to keep their children safe and help them learn. She also realized these parents needed help. Ms. Devos continued to go back and soon started giving support to individual students whose parents could not afford the tuition. Eventually she began to significantly support Potter House. Visit Betsy’s profile page on Facebook.
During the 1990’s Betsy Devos was on the board for the American Education Reform Council and Children First America. Both organizations worked towards educational choice. In 1993 she helped pass the first charter school bill in Michigan.
Unfortunately her efforts in 2000 to change the state constitution to make vouchers and scholarships available through tax credits failed. She began a committee devoted to political action called the Great Lakes Educational Project to promote expanding charter schools in Michigan.
Betsy Devos believes there is a growing interest in educational choice among the Democrats. She has discussed the Department of Education’s resistance to the pilot voucher program in Louisiana in 2008. The program was trying to help the children in the schools that were failing but the department made it extremely difficult by putting up roadblocks. She informed the parents about the vouchers and established a media campaign to raise awareness. Her efforts eventually led to a new program in Louisiana that enrolled almost 5000 kids in their very first year.
Betsy Devos places her main focus on educational choice. She does not believe a student’s school should be exclusively tied to their zip code. She feels technology will play a major role and education will not be so closely tied to specific buildings for schools. In her discussions of digital learning she has stated it is in its infancy stage but will gain in influence over time. Children learn new technologies quickly and she believes this will help them achieve their potential.
Betsy Devos believes homeschooling is another valid option for education. Homeschooling gives parents the power to take control of their children’s education. Charter schools represent yet another choice in education. The options have increased including virtual schools and magnet schools as well. She realized a lot of people think charter schools are the answer yet also understands it takes time to get them operational. She is concerned with some of the good nonpublic schools that are barely surviving.
At one point in time Ms. Devos and her husband started a charter school. It was an aviation school that reflected her husband’s love of flying. The school was called the West Michigan Aviation Academy and it was located in Grand Rapids at the Gerald Ford Airport. Betsy Devos has accomplished something exceptional. She has made a difference.