For years, Betsy DeVos worked alone in her efforts to expand educational choice. Despite positive experiences from students and their families, many questioned the politics behind student choice. DeVos has always supported these programs, especially through her own philanthropy and donations.
In the 1990s, DeVos began visiting schools in Michigan. She saw there were large disparities between schools in lower-income neighborhoods and private schools or even schools in wealthier school districts. DeVos donated over $35 million to educational causes and even co-founded her own charter school.
She believed that students should be placed first and given the ability to choose where they go to school. Her first proposal was “Kids First!” Coalition in 2001, but it wasn’t ratified. She continued to fight for student choice, starting with her home state, but she eventually moved on to work with other states, including Louisiana and Florida.
Over the years, she brought educational choice to 17 states, and during her time as U.S. Education Secretary, she expanded these programs to all 50 states. Students can now select any magnet program, private school, charter school, or virtual school that they want to attend, no matter where they live.
In addition to her work with educational choice, DeVos also worked with states on new safety policies for school campuses, including a new campus guardian. The appointed guardian now protects the campuses and ensures that threats are prevented as soon as possible.
During the pandemic, DeVos also implemented new policies to support hybrid learning, distance learning, and virtual schools. Without these programs, students wouldn’t be able to attend school during COVID-19 infections.
In a recent exit interview after President Joe Biden took office and DeVos resigned, she hoped that her policies would remain after she left, and she stated that she would continue to support educational choice programs.
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