Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may come off as a shrinking violet and a meek team player, but those who know her say she can be a shrewd adversary.
The former Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman knows how to fight. Even after the Trump Administration announcement that rescinded Obama’s policy on LGBT public bathroom use, she didn’t flinch. While she resisted the move, she publicly stayed in lock step with Trump to avoid conflict.
Underestimating Betsy DeVos is huge mistake. Although she is publicly gracious, she has earned a reputation of being relentless and unflappable. In Michigan, Mrs. DeVos is a staunch advocate of charter schools and the voucher programs. She is a firm believer that children should have the opportunity to attend good schools regardless of socioeconomic background.
Mrs. DeVos comes from an ultra-wealthy conservative family with deep political ties. Her father is billionaire industrialist Edgar Prince. Her brother, Erik, is the CEO and co-founder of Blackwater, a private security firm that contracts with the U.S. government.
Mrs. DeVos is married to Richard “Dick” DeVos, the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. Together they have a great deal of political pull and the ability to steer legislation in their favor.
While DeVos initially came off as unprepared and aloof during her confirmation hearings, her supporters say she will learn the ropes quickly.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten says she may come off as plainspoken but she is dangerous. Weingarten says that it is DeVos’s intent to destroy public schools, a charge DeVos says is frivolous.
But there is a real concern about DeVos’s lack of connection with public schools and colleges. Neither she or her family members have ever had to deal with paying for college education.
Also, several of the charter schools have very little oversight. In fact, many of them are failing despite the fact that millions of dollars have been poured into them.
Although she has a deep commitment to charter schools, Mrs. DeVos says she is ready and willing to learn the ropes.
Former Michigan Republican operative Greg McNeilly says she will do okay. “She loves opposition. And she knows how to play power politics.”
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