Are we living in truly unprecedented political times? Nobody in the world thought that Donald Trump, a real estate businessman, and reality TV host, could ever become President of the United States. Trump’s rise corresponded directly with a thrumming pulse in the American voter base that seemed desperate for a change in Washington. People now, more than ever, want to see outsiders come into office in order to try and guide the country into a different future. It only stands to reason that Donald Trump himself would have those same beliefs and he is already flexing them by staffing his administration with relatively green political outsiders. Of all the posts that President Trump has filled so far, the most high-profile and most important seems to be Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education for the United States Department of Education.
Betsy DeVos is devout Christian conservative from Holland, MI. Her family has been crafting a national profile ever since her brother, Erik Prince, turned his private security detail into a billion dollar enterprise known as Blackwater. Betsy DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, a former NBA team owner as well as the heir to the Amway fortune, and the two have been massive figures in the Michigan political scene for the better part of the past thirty years. Despite this family lineage, Betsy DeVos seems determined to break out from behind the shadow of her name and financial status in order to become a difference-maker for the youth of America.
Betsy DeVos is, perhaps more than anyone, the sole voice responsible for making education reform a pivotal part of the conservative political platform. DeVos has spent the past thirty years trying to spread the word about Milton Friedman’s essay, “The Role of Government in Education.” Friedman’s work would become the backbone of the school choice movement, or the school voucher system, that DeVos has been championing for her entire adult life.
DeVos says of her work spreading the school choice system, “I’ve never been more optimistic.” Of course, DeVos should be confident in what she has done so far. Thanks to DeVos, more than 33 private, school choice, institutions are in operation through 17 different states. Nearly 250,000 students are now enrolled into school choice institutions which is going to be huge for the coming generation. Most of these students and institutions are located within Michigan, thanks to DeVos’ tireless work in the state.
Still, in order for DeVos to be a success at the federal level, she is going to have to be ready and willing to go toe-to-toe with some of the greatest politicians in the world. DeVos has already shown that she is willing to put her foot down against even her own party but will she be able to weather the storm for however many years President Trump ends up staying in office. So far, things have been good. DeVos has already won high praise from Randi Weingarten, the President at the American Federation of Teachers, and that only seems to be the beginning.
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