Back in September 2016, Stephen Henderson, a columnist at the Detroit Free Press, wrote a piece about how Betsy DeVos and her family used their wealth to influence a vote on whether Detroit charter schools should be held to the same accountability standards as Detroit public schools.
More specifically, DeVos and her family “donated” more than $1.45 million dollars to the Michigan Republican Party in the two months following the rejection of the bill, including a $475,000 “donation” made in one day. I placed words stemming from the verb “to donate” in quotes because this action has a positive connotation that implies some level of selflessness. DeVos, having never attended or continuously worked with the public school system and having been on the financial receiving end of failing charter schools and outrageous student loan programs, wants to selfishly and narrow-mindedly destroy the public school system. Her donations are in fact a request to buy votes in favor or against education policy issues that will impact her bottom line.
I wanted to find something in her history that said, “I’m actively engaging in working with the public school system to identify and rectify what is wrong with this system. Equally, I am working with the charter school/voucher program sector to identify severe flaws.”…Unfortunately, I learned that it is true: she very much appears to believe vouchers and the expansion of all types of charters, especially for-profit and this that continuously fail students, are the only changes that should be made. She hardly acknowledges the charters that score below standards but are still allowed to open more schools. She won’t acknowledge that Charters and vouchers are not the answer to our troubled public school system. Instead, she continues to ignore it.
After Henderson points out the blatant corruption her family’s partakes in, DeVos jumps on the defense, writing this deaf piece that disregards Henderson’s points about her family wielding their money to get what they want and how what they want is evidently just as harmful, if not more harmful, than the public school system we have now. Just because DeVos represents change, doesn’t mean it’s for the better.