The Unexpected Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos was a controversial pick for Secretary of Education. There’s simply no shying away from that. But since she took office, her willingness to meet with leaders from the world of education has been a pleasant surprise. Whether they support or oppose her agenda, DeVos will sit down with them and hear them out.

 

To be clear, this is no shock to anyone who has followed DeVos’s career in politics. In her home state of Michigan, she’s been known as an effective voice for reform for years. Her entry into the political sphere came during her time as a student at Calvin College. It was then when she realized advocacy and political action was part of her vocation. Since then, it’s become her life’s work.

 

DeVos has high-level supporters including the First Lady, Melania Trump. Queen Rania of Jordan accompanied both DeVos and Mrs. Trump on a visit to a girls school. But some of the people with whom she’s met have been a surprise. For example, recently she toured a Florida charter school with its founder, Pitbull.

 

This pair seemed unlikely to many in the press corps. But this visit underscores the fact that many people, from many different backgrounds, have noticed that our school system isn’t working. It’s not preparing students for the careers of today.

 

Like Pitbull, P. Diddy and Andre Agassi, DeVos’s husband Dick has founded a charter school. Many of these schools have a particular career focus. SLAM Academy, formed by Pitbull, prepares students for careers in the worlds of sport and management. Dick DeVos’s school prepares students for careers in aviation.

 

Some are still critical of these programs as serving up unrealistic career goals. But the leadership, planning and math skills taught at these schools will serve students well in any number of careers. They’re the very definition of transferable skills.

 

DeVos’s ties to the state of Florida are strong. Her husband, Dick, was the owner of the Orlando Magic for years. She’s spent plenty of time in the state, and her family has long supported conservative Florida politicians including Jeb Bush. Though the charter school movement still has its critics, DeVos was pleased to see how successful it’s been in Florida.

 

During her time in the state, DeVos also visited traditional public schools, and universities. For example, she spent time at the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences. It’s clear that the Secretary of Education takes her work seriously. In her tours of this diverse array of schools, she is seeing what works and what doesn’t.

 

For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.

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