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Betsy DeVos: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

betsy devos

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ – NOVEMBER 19: (L to R) president-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos pose for a photo after their meeting at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. (Getty)

Donald Trump has nominated extensive Republican donor and staunch school choice advocate Betsy DeVos to be his Education Secretary.

Her family’s net worth is in the billions of dollars.

DeVos adds gender diversity to Trump’s cabinet. Her selection, announced on November 23, comes the same day Trump picked South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to be ambassador to the UN. Devos has powerful family ties; her husband is the heir to a $5 billion fortune and her brother is Blackwater founder and U.S. Navy Seal Erik Prince.

The choice of DeVos has been criticized by groups on both sides of the political spectrum because she has assisted groups that both advocate for school choice but also Common Core (although she called it a “federalized boondoggle.”) She and her family are such significant donors to Republican causes that The Hill wrote this July that DeVos “belongs to arguably the most powerful family of political donors in America.”

On her website, DeVos calls herself an “education reform advocate empowering parents to choose the best education for their children.”

Here’s what you need to know:


1. DeVos Is a Republican Party Activist Whose Family Donates Significant Money to Republicans

emily devos

Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump and Mike Pence. (Getty)

According to her biography on the Foundation for Excellence in Education website, DeVos has been “active in Republican politics since college,” serving as elected chairman of the Michigan Republican Party four times between 1996 and 2005.

She has also held “numerous leadership roles with campaigns, party organizations, and political action committees,” the website says.

The website says DeVos is Chairman of The Windquest Group (TWG). “TWG is a Michigan-based, privately held enterprise and investment management firm with diversified projects in technology, manufacturing, clean-tech and nonprofit solutions,” says the website.

The DeVos family has given extensively in campaign finance donations. According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, during one 56-day period alone this summer,”DeVos family members have made $1.45 million in disclosed contributions to Michigan candidates, state PACs, and Republican party organizations in Michigan.”

The network added that, “DeVos family members have given $178,200 to 20 Republican State House candidates over the last two months.” During the 2013-2014 election cycle, “MCFN tracked a total of $4.9 million in contributions by members of the DeVos family, making the family the largest individual or family group of donors in Michigan for that cycle.”

The Washington Post says, in 2016, the family gave $2.7 million to the Republican Party, its candidates and PACS.

The Hill said “no family in conservative politics donated more” money directly to political campaigns in 2015.

Betsy DeVos was lukewarm at first on Trump, however, supporting John Kasich and telling The Hill this summer that she opposed Hillary Clinton but had not yet “got there” on Trump.


2. DeVos Is a Strong Advocate For Charter & Choice Schools

betsy devos

Trump and DeVos. (Getty)

According to CNN, DeVos is the chair of the American Federation for Children, a group that supports charter schools.

The Hill says of DeVos, “lately her main focus has been advocating for school choice.”

The Detroit News called DeVos “a national leader in the school choice movement,” saying she has called it an attempt to “’empower’ parents to find good schools for their children, whether they be traditional public schools in other neighborhoods, charter schools, virtual schools or private institutions.”

On her website, DeVos describes the American Federation for Children by saying it is “the nation’s leading school choice advocacy group” and adding that she “has been a national leader in the fight to boldly reform America’s broken education system by giving parents more options for their children’s education.”

According to her website, DeVos’ husband, Dick, founded the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a public charter high school “that combines their mutual passion for education with Dick’s love of aviation.”


3. Some Republicans Are Unhappy That DeVos Was on the Board of an Organization Supporting Common Core

Betsy Devos

(Getty)

DeVos was on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which CNN says was a group led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush that “promoted both school choice and the Common Core education standards.” The latter has concerned some conservative activists who oppose Common Core.

Trump has pledged to get rid of Common Core.

However, DeVos wrote on her website of Common Core, “Certainly. I am not a supporter—period. I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When Governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.”

She added, “Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework. However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.”

DeVos concluded, “Above all, I believe every child, no matter their zip code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.”


4. DeVos Has Strong Ties to the Christian Reformed community in Michigan & Her Brother Founded Blackwater

Betsy Devos

(Getty)

When he announced DeVos’ selection, Trump said he hoped she would reform the educational system.

According to The Washington Post, “the DeVos name is synonymous with key philanthropic efforts in Christian communities.” The Post says Betsy Devos belongs to Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is “heavily influenced by Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch writer and Calvinist theologian.”

Those who know her told the Post she was unlikely to focus on hot-button issues like creationism or evolution, calling her a “free-enterprise conservative” concerned about the public good.

Betsy is the daughter of an industrialist named Edgar Prince. The Washington Post says her mother has “supported anti-gay marriage efforts in the past” but Besty DeVos has not been “publicly involved” in that issue.

Her brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater, the controversial and now defunct security group that, according to The Washington Times, was a “mercenary firm” that “gained infamy during the Iraq War for incidents involving civilian casualties.”

DeVos must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.


5. DeVos Is a Grandmother & Mother Whose Husband Is Heir to a $5.1 Billion Fortune

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 19: (L to R) Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence prepare to head inside the clubhouse after posing for a photo at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(Getty)

The Excellence in Education bio says DeVos and her husband, Dick, have two daughters, two sons, and a granddaughter. She serves or has served on national and local boards including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, American Federation for Children, ArtPrize, Mars Hill Bible Church, and Kids Hope USA, says the bio.

Dick DeVos – who ran unsuccessfully for Michigan’s governor in 2006, is the son of Richard DeVos Sr., the billionaire co-founder of the company Amway. According to Forbes, Richard Devos Sr. is worth $5.1 billion and first sold cleaners door-to-door.

Richard DeVos Sr. owns the Orlando Magic.

Betsy and Dick Jr. have a $10 million waterfront home, said MLive.

According to a Grand Rapids, Michigan blog, Richard DeVos Sr. “was active in the efforts to build the early Christian right in the mid-1970s and was an endorser of a Third Century Publishers political manual. Third Century was one of the first hard-line Christian Right groups focused on electing “real Christians” to office.”

Born in Michigan and a lifelong resident of that state, according to her website, Betsy DeVos is a graduate of Holland Christian High School and Calvin College, the bio says.

Dick DeVos, Betsy’s Husband: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Dick DeVos is a businessman and the husband of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's new education secretary. Here's what you need to know about him.

Click here to read more

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10 comments

  1. I’m not sure about this selection of Betsy DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, is an interesting character. Family ties are important and there could be some unexpected influences in effect. The Secretary of Education is at least a limited scope of power appointment. It’s interesting to note that influence can go both ways. President Trump could have access to Erik Prince’s vast security resources and politics. If the US people are lucky, this relationship could be instrumental in ridding the USA of its many corrupting influences.

  2. I hope Betsy has a good close look at the evolution curriculum because the way this popular myth is taught as a scientific “fact” is nothing short of disgusting.
    The scientific evidence clearly shows that natural forces do NOT have the capacity to design and build something as complex and intricate as the human brain, reproductive system or nervous system.

    Evolution seriously damages the emotional wellbeing of students by telling them that they are the product of a mindless, purposeless process and they they emerge as a result of million of copying mistakes (mutations). Is it any wonder that some kids act like animals – when we tell them in the curriculum that this is exactly what they are.

    If the scientific evidence clearly supported macro evolution – I would not complain. But it does not indeed recent scientific discoveries are killing the evolution myth – it is about time.

      • Scoffing and sarcasm is a common tactic used to discourage observers from carefully and critically examining the so called “Mountains of evidence”.
        I heard about these “mountains of evidence” for years, and like most others, accepted them in blind faith. Then one day I actually started scrutinizing them and discovered that it was all bluster, wild interpretations and outright frauds (google Erst Haeckel deception).
        The evidence for macro evolution is actually mountains of cow dung – the actual scientific evidence CONDEMNS macro evolution.

        I say again. Macro evolution is a popular myth which is dying a slow and agonizing death.

    • Hey, I dont know exactly what you are talking about. To put this in perspective, I’m a freshman at a certain university who plans on studying molecular biology and genetics. I havent specialized yet, so I am by no means the next Albert Einstein, however I follow genetics experiments and the like and like to think I know more than the average person. The nervous system isnt particularly complex. Its just a long line of chemical gradients that send ions all over the body. You can see the “evolutions” in various levels of complex organisms. From simple electric responses to our massive web of neurons in our body. A simple neuroscience class would tell you that. I feel like I have actually gained a better appreciation for life, that around me and my own, since i learned about evolution and biochemistry. When I look at my hand I dont just see some creation, I see the result of a million years of complex chemical processes that has resulted in trillions of beautifully complex cells working together to give me life. While it is true that life is only a result of natural processes, how does that make it any less valuable. Crystals are the result of simple electric reactions between ions, yet we still gasp when we see a beautiful sapphire or diamond.

      (Also genetics is a lot more complex than mutations. For example, early cells often shared DNA or absorbed spontaneously generated DNA)

      Ive also been following evolutionary studies recently and I dont know what you are talking about. In fact recent experiments have provided more support for evolution. For example, recent japanese experiments regarding aqueous solutions, rich in bicarbonate, showed that large kinetic impacts are capable of “spontaneously” generating all but one nucleotide. Nucleotides are the complex building blocks of DNA and once they are formed its just a few relatively basic hydro-reactions from a DNA strand.

      That being said, I think you are misinformed.

    • Hey, I dont know exactly what you are talking about. To put this in perspective, I’m a freshman at a certain university who plans on studying molecular biology and genetics. I havent specialized yet, so I am by no means the next Albert Einstein, however I follow genetics experiments and the like and like to think I know more than the average person. The nervous system isnt particularly complex. Its just a long line of chemical gradients that send ions all over the body. You can see the “evolutions” in various levels of complex organisms. From simple electric responses to our massive web of neurons in our body. A simple neuroscience class would tell you that. I feel like I have actually gained a better appreciation for life, that around me and my own, since i learned about evolution and biochemistry. When I look at my hand I dont just see some creation, I see the result of a million years of complex chemical processes that has resulted in trillions of beautifully complex cells working together to give me life. While it is true that life is only a result of natural processes, how does that make it any less valuable. Crystals are the result of simple electric reactions between ions, yet we still gasp when we see a beautiful sapphire or diamond.

      (Also genetics is a lot more complex than mutations. For example, early cells often shared DNA or absorbed spontaneously generated DNA)

      Ive also been following evolutionary studies recently and I dont know what you are talking about. In fact recent experiments have provided more support for evolution. For example, recent japanese experiments regarding aqueous solutions, rich in bicarbonate, showed that large kinetic impacts are capable of “spontaneously” generating all but one nucleotide. Nucleotides are the complex building blocks of DNA and once they are formed its just a few relatively basic hydro-reactions from a DNA strand.

      That being said, I think you are misinformed.

      (reposted as an actual reply)

      • So lets get this straight, People WANT evolution to be taken out of the Curriculeam.. to be replaced by what? Creationism??
        I’m so special therefore God created me…I thought that Pride was the worst of the Sins. I’ll certainly accord one note of truth to that concept. Every religion in the world agrees on one thing. Man was created.
        Evolution takes millions of years, making (as noted above) trillions of mistakes. If people are unable to wrap their minds around the complexity of nature and the amount of time that was involved in this process then it no wonder some people go running to imaginary friends in their heads for comfort.
        So we have an idea that the Earth is roughly 4.567 billion years old (wow that seems a lot doesnt it..)
        Australopithecus turned up on Earth around 4 million years ago and it seems that a part of their population evolved into the start of the Homo Species whilst the rest went the way of the Chimps. (from there you’ve got Habilis, Neanderthal (who themselves are a major anti Evolution proof. they were stronger, smarter and more robust than the Sapiens, Darwin where are you??)
        The genus HOMO has been on Earth for around 2.8 million years. Homo Erectus lasted for about 2 million years before becoming suddenly extinct around 70k years ago. (as a side note, let it be known that the Mayans counted time in millions of years..) Homo Sapien Sapien emerged out of East Africa (a continent that has almost NO Neaderthal DNA in its population) around 200 000 years ago. Then there is a biiiiiig black spot and we turn up around 15-8 thousand years BCE with records turning up of Sumerian / Akkadian/ Babylonian. Eygptian Civilisations. Who in turn inspired and shaped the Greek and Roman Civilisations
        And that is to be replaced by?? The world was created 6000 years ago in 7 days by God? Oops.. sorry, in 6 days by God, then he rested. So God can get tired?
        That coming from a book edited and ripped to shreds in AD325.

    • Oh we’re talking about brains evolving from natural forces now are we? 10-20 years ago you creationist idiots were talking about how “something as *simple* as the eye” couldn’t evolve from natural forces. Now it’s brains. Let’s get back to that shall we? But you don’t want to do that because the evolution of the eye HAS been shown to have evolved under natural forces. But back then you ALSO said it was “too complex and intricate.”