In the 1990’s, Mrs. DeVos served in two national charities, the American Education Forum and the Children First America as a board member. She has worked with these charities to expand the educational choice through tax credits and vouchers. Betsy and Dick DeVos started their efforts on education offerings by contributing politically in the first charter school bill that was initiated in 1993.
This was followed by an unsuccessful trial to alter the state constitution for vouchers and tax credit scholarships to be adopted. It was a tragic experience since there were very many families in Michigan’s urban school district in need for better educational options, and because the state constitution was restrictive in limiting the choices for education in the country.
Although the changes in the education sector that DeVos has tried to implement have taken long to be adopted in different states, Betsy’s current role as the U.S Education Secretary is making it easier for her to see some reforms going through. In 2017, Betsy accompanied Queen Rania of Jordan and first lady Melina Trump to an all-girls charter school.
After the visit to the Excel Academy, Betsy stated that the academy was a great example of how a school meets the needs of the community, the parents and the students at large. This was an indication that transformation can happen when parents are given the opportunity to select the best educational environment for their children.
On several occasions, Betsy visited different schools in Miami that had different educational environments for the children. In the Miami educational environment, some of the educational offerings include a traditional elementary school that is public, institutions of higher learning, and a charter school that Pitbull, the popular rapper started.
Betsy visited these learning environments and stated her commitment to expanding the school choice program. DeVos has gone to Florida visiting schools as she supports the agenda of increasing the voucher program and charter schools that use public funds to educate children in religious and private schools. Florida has a special place in DeVos’ heart since her husband has strong family ties in Florida, and he also owns a home in Florida. Additionally, Dick DeVos’ father purchased the Orlando Magic basketball team in 1991.
Betsy has come from far championing for greater educational choices. She was chair of the American Federation for Children which Dick and the late John Walton started. There are other school-choice supporters that worked to educate the public about having a more diverse education offering. At first, the support was not that strong. It is not easy to dictate a lot of moving parts because it involves identifying legislators, ensuring that they understand the issue, get them voted in, help them formulate and pass legislation, and once the legislation become law, help them to create programs around the laws for the sake of the children.
To achieve this, the formation of the American Federation for Children was started as an umbrella organization to the Alliance for School choice, the American Federation for Children Action Fund and the AFC’s political action committee. Once this was established, things started working out well.
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