With no help from her rocky performance at the Senate confirmation hearings, Betsy Devos has oft been described as meek or ignorant. Devos struggled to answer questions regarding education policy and federal law. For the first time for a cabinet officer, a tie-breaking vote was cast by Vice President Pence.
Despite her rough start in federal government, Devos has earned a reputation for being driven and unyielding in the politics of her home state Michigan. According to people who have known Devos, she is a leading advocate of charter schools and school vouchers. She also uses the vast wealth of her family to pass legislation that benefits her motives. Lawmakers who oppose her are also at risk to be unseated by said wealth.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federations of Teachers has said of Devos, “There’s a real tendency to underestimate her.” and “She comes across as personable, plain-spoken, but she is dangerous.”
As a charter school advocate, Devos has lobbied to steer tax dollars away from public schools in order to benefit charter schools for decades. To take it one step further, Devos has long supported for-profit schools and has opposed regulations and performance standards, arguing that parents should decide the fate of these schools.
Due to Devos and her efforts, Detroit has the nation’s largest concentration of charter schools. Many schools are noted as not meeting expectations. The public schools of Detroit continue to be some of the worst in the nation.
The Great Lakes Education Project, a group created by Devos, fought against a bill by bipartisan legislators and Detroit officials. The aim of the bill was to set in place mechanisms for the permitting new charter schools, along with closing those that are underperforming. Devos also believes the Detroit public school system should be shut down.
Weingarten describes Devos as fighting tooth and nail and wishing the failure of public schools. She is also noted as being completely ideologically focused.
Greg Mcneilly, a Michigan political operative who has worked with Devos claims that she understands what most Americans do not. The test scores of public schools, even those considered good, pale in comparison to other countries. Said by Mcneilly, “I think she wants to have a conversation with the country about what should we expect from our schools, and about being agnostic about the form of schools.”
One of Devos’s first act post confirmation was to contact Weingarten and National Education Association President, Lily Eskelsen García. While Garcia has declined the call, Weingarten and Devos have planned to visit various schools together.
This action has been proclaimed as a smart move be Mcneilly, who also has stated, “People in Washington will find out, opposition only emboldens her,” and “She knows how to play power politics.” Learn more:https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/03/a-tale-of-two-betsy-devoses/518952/