This article is an interview between U.S. Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, and an interviewer from the Philanthropy Roundtable about her work in education reform in general, and more specifically, her thoughts and reformative efforts regarding school choice. Betsy and her husband, Dick DeVos, are both very active in the political world, and they are also very avid philanthropist–their charitable contributions to a variety of different charities add up to almost $140 million dollars over their lifetimes. Needless to say, the DeVos family are avid philanthropists, which is probably why The Philanthropy Roundtable chose DeVos for an interview. DeVos is also a reformist, working to reform the public education system so that it will become more successful in this country. She is perhaps best known as a leading advocate for the educational-choice movement, which is what most of this interview is focused on.
The interviewer begins by asking DeVos her thoughts on the progress regarding school choice that has been made both recently and in the past. DeVos gave an extremely optimistic response, stating that the progress is very evident, given the number of students who have begun participating in educational-choice programs and private schools (over 40,000 within the last year). She also makes the bold statement that our public schools are failing, and that the progress of the educational-choice movement is forcing people to take notice of this fact and act on it.
DeVos is then asked what sparked her interest in becoming a reformer and a supporter of this movement. She tells a story of visiting different schools when her daughter became of school-age. They visited the Potter’s House Christian School in Grand Rapids and fell in love with the atmosphere and the people. However, they noticed that a lot of the families that wanted their children to attend the school were low-income families. While DeVos’s family was well-equipped to pay for their daughter to attend, they knew other families were not, so they began paying the tuition of individuals from those families. This grew into a larger commitment and began their career as philanthropists and strong advocates for educational-choice.
Betsy DeVos then goes on to explain her belief in charter schools and why she thinks the educational-choice movement is so important for our country’s education system. She says that she is firmly against the idea that a child’s family’s zip-code has to determine where they can receive an education from. She believes that institutions like private schools, charter schools, and even homeschooling should be valid options for families who want to provide their children with a safe, stimulating environment and a great education, and that these options should be made more readily available to those that wish to employ them.
The interview ends with DeVos revealing her dream–that all parents, regardless of their situation, are able to choose what they believe to be the best educational system for their children, and that all students are given the resources to fulfill their potential in their education.
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