Today, Betsy DeVos is widely known as the secretary of education, which is a position she obtained through her many philanthropic efforts. As far back as the 1990s, Ms. DeVos was interested in bringing greater educational choice to the children of low-income families. Her passion for this cause was inspired upon learning that many families in her own community were forced to rely on underfunded public schools to provide adequate education for their children. Betsy realized this lack of choice set those children at a disadvantage in comparison to children attending charter and private schools.
Ms. DeVos began by donating to organizations that lobbied for more educational opportunities in low-income neighborhoods, but she eventually took a more active role. Among the many philanthropic organizations she chairs, Betsy is directly involved with Kids Hope USA, the American Federation for Children, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and the Alliance for School Choice. Having been involved with these organizations throughout the years, Ms. DeVos has had the opportunity to watch several educational choice programs in action.
In a recent interview, Betsy DeVos commented on the effectiveness of those programs. She said she’s particularly proud of scholarship and voucher programs that help families send their children to charter schools. While these programs only help one family at a time, Betsy says the growing popularity of these programs are helping to send more children to charter schools. It’s just one way that local and state governments are initiating programs to help the children of low-income families gain access to more educational choices.
Ultimately, Ms. DeVos can see online learning providing an even greater range of choices for children and their families. While online learning is just gaining popularity, Betsy hopes to see it evolve to offer more choices for elementary and high school students. This option of online learning blended with classroom lectures can offer the best possible options. Instead of determining educational choice based solely on the community in which the child lives, home-based learning can provide many more opportunities.
Where charter schools aren’t available to many low-income families, Betsy hopes to see homeschooling gain momentum as another option. This could be an especially important consideration in providing more low-income families with better educational options. Instead of being restricted to the public school curriculum, Betsy DeVos hopes these options will provide better opportunities to parents regardless of socio-economic status.
Ms. DeVos anticipates seeing greater progress achieved in the educational system by combining improved government programs with advancements in technology. When children are presented with the broader range of choices in the communities and online, they can take better control of their own education. Eventually, families will be able to provide the types of education that will meet the personalized needs of their children.
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