Betsy DeVos earned her reputation as a reformer as far back as her time at Calvin College. Then known as Elizabeth Prince, she became an active member of the campus political scene not long after arriving on campus. DeVos has remained both politically and socially active for three decades now.
Mrs. DeVos has taken a lead role in a variety of political campaigns, has led party organizations, and was the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Michigan for six years.
Mrs. DeVos also expresses her social concerns through a variety of non-profit efforts. DeVos is integral to the operations of a number of local and national charities. She has also, along with husband Dick, started the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation.
The most focused efforts of Mrs. DeVos has no doubt been her efforts to affect school choice reform in America. Recently, Betsy DeVos took time out to answer a few questions.
What Are Your Thoughts On The Progress Of The School Choice Movement During Your Many Years Of Involvement?
I am extremely optimistic. There are private school choice programs funded by the public in 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Nearly a quarter of a million students in the country take part in these programs.
In 2012 alone, new programs began in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Louisiana, and Arizona.
What First Caused You To Become Interested In The School Choice Movement?
There was no single moment or incident. It was a gradual process of awareness. Dick and I often visited the Potter’s House Christian School when our own children were young. The Potter’s House has served underprivileged children in the area of Grand Rapids, Michigan for thirty years. While visiting the school, Dick and I met many low-income families and became interested in their plight to secure decent educations for their children.
Our first direct involvement was providing financial support to the Potter’s House. We also provided direct support to families there with whom we developed relationships.
How Did Your Support For The Potter’s House Expand?
Well, the issue is one in which I became very interested. I met many good parents while visiting at the Potter’s House. These parents were in effect being told by our education system that the educational outlook for their children would be limited by the zip code in which they live. At that point, I knew I had to do more.
What Has Been The Biggest Success You Have Experienced
I would have to say the scholarship program in Florida. Florida has provided students with school choice programs for longer than all other states in the country. A recent expansion to this tax-funded program has extended this opportunity to 50,000 students.
To learn more, visit www.betsydevos.com.