Dick DeVos, husband of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and former president of Amway Products, is known in the circles he travels as a man who strong-arms his way into just about everything from airports and arenas to worker’s rights and Washington, DC.
At one time, plans for a sports and convention arena north of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, was intercepted by Dick DeVos. He lobbied to stop the development because he deemed it ‘detrimental’ to the city. However, the replacement plans were DeVos’ own multi-purpose sports and convention arena, complete with his family’s name brand as the star attraction.
When DeVos is determined to take credit, he doesn’t do much by way of asking, and much more in the line of telling. Along with the arena and convention center also came a performance hall, a city market, and Michigan State’s medical school. If it has to do with education and labor, the DeVos brand name is somewhere close by.
When it comes to education, the DeVos’s are determined that more disadvantaged children have access to educational opportunities through school choice voucher programs.
Outside of Dick DeVos’ dreams and philosophies, rejection and loss seem to underscore his intentions no matter how well-meaning, but inside his own self-made world, the DeVos family name simply refuses to give up.
As the tug of war between school choice and traditional public school systems rages on, DeVos’ doesn’t hesitate to make his own brainchild, a love of education and aviation, a trademark for opportunism. The West Michigan Aviation Academy, a private charter school operating on public funds, also receives a large portion of its funding directly from the DeVos family.
Though DeVos is said to keep his personal politics out of school matters, he did decide not to call the parent association group a PTA and he did decide on the types and colors of clothing for male members of the Academy.
It seems a matter of opinion as to what, exactly, “school choice” is when the private lottery and vouchering systems are so limited, or limited to what the DeVos’ family thinks education should look like.
Dick DeVos, who tends to craft himself as a textbook case ‘change agent’, is going to need more than a few model charter schools to convince his political opposition that his personal interests are in alignment with the taxpayers who are footing the bill for public education.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.