A representative of gay and transgender employees at the Education Department was warned about President Trump’s repeal of the federal policy that allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms that matched their gender identities. Who warned the representative? None other than Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education.
The employee was told that Betsy DeVos resisted Trump’s movement, but she showed no signs of this resistance to the public. In fact, she later joined in on the new policy announcement stating that the old policy was “a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach.”
This lead to the idea that Ms. DeVos is weak, but those who have observed her over her career say the opposite. As a former Republican Party chairwoman, a donor, and charter school advocate, Ms. DeVos has earned a relentless reputation. In her home state, she is known to be a strong political fighter. She works behind the scenes to pass legislation she wants and remove her opposition.
Mike Cox, a former Republican state attorney general, stated “In Michigan politics, she instilled fear in a lot of people, and it’s not just because she’s a billionaire. I found Betsy to be very determined, steely, when she sets her mind on a goal.”
When Ms. DeVos arrived in Washington, she had no experience from within the government and a short history with the president. Despite this, people are saying that she will learn how things work quickly and accomplish her goals.
“She comes across as personable, plain-spoken, but she is dangerous.” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Betsy DeVos grew up in western Michigan where she worked at her father’s company. Her brother founded Blackwater, the private military company known for its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dick DeVos, her husband, comes from the family who founded Amway, another multi-billion dollar company.
Ms. Devos, her husband, and their children all received private educations. This lead to opposition members pointing out the lack of connections Ms. DeVos has to public education systems in addition to the issues average families face when trying to pay for education.
Taking tax dollars away from public schools, funding private schools, and funding charter schools are just a few of the many things Ms. DeVos has been pushing for. She also supports for-profit schools and is against performance standards.
Her determination has caused Detroit to have the most charter schools in the country. Unfortunately, most of them are under-performing. Detroit’s public schools are currently the worst in the US.
Last year, there was an attempt to pass legislation that would help Detroit public schools. Ms. DeVos fought hard against that legislation and she won. She said the public school system in Detroit should be shut down.
Ms. DeVos had a rough start in Washington, but she continues to get more comfortable and is learning how to play the game. She continues to insight the fear that she is hostile to public education.
Follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.