In 2017, Donald Trump rescinded a public policy from his predecessor that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that matched the gender they identified with. Although Betsy DeVos was against the move in private, she did not make any public indication that there was a rift in the Trump Administration. She also met with a number of LGBT representatives from the U.S. Education Department to warn them of what was coming. Throughout the entire process, she remained diplomatic and civil. Even though Trump appointed her to her post almost as soon as he became President-Elect, individuals that knew her well from her home state of Michigan caution against simply believing that she will just be a yes-person within the administration or someone who will give up on her goals without a fight. Indeed, she has been described as “determined” and “steely” when she is chasing her goals.
This reputation for Betsy DeVos started many years ago, when she led the fight for her home state to become one of the main places for charter schools to develop. Indeed, because of the efforts of Betsy DeVos, Detroit is a city with one of the highest concentrations of charter schools within the nation. Meanwhile, the public schools within Detroit continue to go downhill. However, even though opponents of charter schools say that these school types deprive public schools of resources. Like Betsy DeVos, supporters of school choice believe that it gives poor families a choice to send their students to better schools if the public option is not very good.
Unfortunately, Mrs. DeVos had a bit of a rocky introduction to Washington. She had a very rough confirmation procedure, in which she was roundly criticized for noting how some teachers “should be armed to protect against grizzly bears.” Although she claimed the comment was made in jest, the late-night comedy schools had some fun with it to say the least. However, unlike President Trump she is able to laugh off the criticism even if she was privately irked about being portrayed the way she was. She simply noted that her confirmation was “a bit of a bear.”
So, how did she demonstrate that she is a team player? One of the ways she started was by immediately requesting meetings with the leaders of the two top education unions, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and Lilly Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association. Randi Weingarten returned the call and the two agreed they would visit some schools together. Either way, Betsy DeVos will continue to work on her goals and education will be shaped for the better in her image.
To learn more, visit www.betsydevos.com.