• September 28, 2021

Betsy DeVos Senate Hearing Revolved Around Public-Private School Debate

It didn’t take long for the Senate hearings on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education to devolve into a heated partisan debate. Republicans lauded DeVos as the “right remedy” for what ails the American public school system today while Democrats lined up to decry her efforts to steer money away from public education.


No one expected anything different. For decades, Betsy DeVos has been a staunch advocate of school choice and a harsh critic of “government-run schools.” She has long maintained that where we send our children to get educated should not be a “one size fits all” scenario.


Betsy DeVos believes that alternatives to public schools should be placed on the front burner of public policy. That includes charter schools, magnet schools, parochial schools and for-profit models. She has also been among the first prominent figures in the nation to staunchly back the controversial school voucher program. The latter would allow public funds to be diverted to pay the tuition of kids sent to private schools.


Her critics accuse her of wanting to “privatize education.” For DeVos, that’s not a criticism but a badge of honor. She frequently likes to say that it’s time that the only determination of where a child goes to be something other than “a zip code.”


Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos, have put their money where their beliefs are. They bankrolled what has become one of the best secondary education charter schools in the nation. The West Michigan Aviation Academy in Grand Rapids now enrolls more than 600 students tuition-free. The innovative school offers flight training in real airplanes to students as they work toward a high school diploma.


DeVos was confirmed in February of 2017 to become the 11th American Secretary of Education serving in the Cabinet of the Trump Administration.