Betsy DeVos and Reform

Betsy DeVos has worked in education reform since the early 1990s. Her work started with philanthropy. As she visited many schools in her home state of Michigan, she found that there were disparities between lower-income neighborhood schools and wealthier school districts. There were also many students who wanted to attend charter schools and private schools for different programs.


With the help of other donors, DeVos began philanthropic programs to help lower-income families and students go to better schools. DeVos worked with Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sam Walton of Wal-Mart. These donors supported programs and scholarships to help students get into private schools or special courses to support their interests.


Even though she has been a polarizing figure in education reform, DeVos has always contended that she placed students first in priority. With student choice programs, families are able to apply for scholarships and choose private schools, charter schools, or virtual schools.


These programs were expanded under DeVos during her time as U.S. Secretary of Education. Her work started with Florida and Louisiana, but as she worked with 17 different states, she eventually implemented educational choice to all 50 states.


Students are able to choose between magnet schools, private schools, charter schools, virtual schools, and homeschooling programs.


In addition to her work with student choice, DeVos also implemented policies to protect school campuses from violence. She worked with state legislatures to create the campus guardian program, which would place one guardian on each campus.


During the pandemic, she implemented new policies for hybrid learning, virtual schools, and distance learning programs to ensure that students could still access education even from home. Many schools experienced shutdowns due to COVID-19 infections during 2020.


In her last interview as U.S. Education Secretary, DeVos spoke about the issues facing the new administration and hoped that her policies would remain in place.


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