Betsy DeVos

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Betsy DeVos
11th United States Secretary of Education
In office
February 7, 2017 – January 8, 2021
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byJohn King Jr.
Succeeded byMiguel Cardona
Chairwoman of the Michigan
Republican Party
In office
Preceded byGerald Hills
Succeeded bySaul Anuzis
In office
Preceded bySusy Avery
Succeeded byGerald Hills
Personal details
Elisabeth Prince

(1958-01-08) January 8, 1958 (age 66)
Holland, Michigan, United States
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Dick DeVos
  • Richard
  • Traci
  • Elisabeth
  • Andrea
  • Ryan
RelativesEdgar Prince (father)
Erik Prince (brother)
Alma materCalvin College (BA)
WebsiteOfficial website

Elisabeth "Betsy" DeVos (née Prince; born January 8, 1958) is an American billionaire[1] businesswoman, philanthropist, and education activist from Michigan. She was the 11th United States Secretary of Education from February 7, 2017 to January 8, 2021. DeVos is known for her advocacy of school choice and voucher programs.

On November 23, 2016, it was announced that DeVos would be nominated to serve as Secretary of Education in the coming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.[2] On February 7, 2017, she was confirmed by the United States Senate by a 50-50 vote with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie in her favor.[3]

In January 2021, DeVos resigned from the Trump cabinet over the events of the storming of the United States Capitol.

Early life[change | change source]

DeVos was born Elisabeth Prince on January 8, 1958[4][5] in Holland, Michigan. She was educated at the Holland Christian High School, a private school in her home town of Holland, Michigan.[6] She graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and political science.

Business career[change | change source]

DeVos is chairwoman of the Windquest Group, a privately held operating group that invests in technology, manufacturing, and clean energy. DeVos and her husband founded it in 1989.

Political activity[change | change source]

Since 1982, DeVos has participated in the Michigan Republican Party. She served as a local precinct delegate. She was a Republican National Committeewoman for Michigan between 1992 and 1997,[7] and served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000. DeVos resigned the position in 2000. She said in 2000, "It is clear I have never been a rubber stamp... I have been a fighter for the grassroots, and following is admittedly not my strong suit."[8]

In 2003, DeVos ran again for party chairman and was elected to the post without opposition.[8]

United States Secretary of Education[change | change source]

On November 23, 2016, it was announced that DeVos was President-elect Trump's choice to be the next United States Secretary of Education. Upon her nomination, DeVos said "I am honored to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again. The status quo in ed is not acceptable".[9]

Former presidential candidates Jeb BushMitt Romney, and Carly Fiorina respectively called DeVos an "outstanding pick", a "smart choice", and the "transformative leader our students need". Republican Senator Ben Sasse said DeVos "has made a career out of standing up to powerful and connected special interests on behalf of poor kids who are too often forgotten by Washington." In an opinion editorial, The Chicago Tribune wrote that "DeVos has helped lead the national battle to expand education opportunities for children."

The confirmation hearing for DeVos was initially scheduled for January 10, 2017, but was delayed for one week after the Office of Government Ethics requested more time to review her financial disclosures.[10] The confirmation hearing was later held on January 17.[11]

On February 7, 2017, DeVos was confirmed by the Senate by a 51–50 margin, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie in favor of DeVos's nomination; it was the first time a vice president had done so for the appointment of a cabinet nominee.[12]

Betsy DeVos and her family spend millions promoting education privatization schemes. Long before she became Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos used her family’s wealth to privatize public schools. She funds politicians who support voucher schemes. DeVos won confirmation despite 1.1 million letters and 80,000 phone calls from NEA supporters urging senators to vote no. Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote, the first time in the nation’s history a vice president’s vote was necessary to approve a cabinet nominee.[13]

On January 7, 2021, DeVos resigned from her job as Secretary of Education after the January 6 U.S. Capitol riots.[14][15] She was the second cabinet member to resign following the storming, the first being the United States Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.[16]

Personal life[change | change source]

DeVos is married to businessman and millionaire Dick DeVos. Together, they have four children and one grandchild. DeVos' father-in-law, Richard DeVos is the current owner of the Orlando Magic.

References[change | change source]

  1. Pulliam Bailey, Sarah (November 23, 2016). Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education pick, is a billionaire with deep ties to the Christian Reformed community. The Washington Post. Retrieved: November 24, 2016.
  2. "Trump Picks Betsy DeVos As Education Secretary". November 23, 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2016. {{cite news}}: Cite uses deprecated parameter |authors= (help)
  3. Huetteman, Emmarie (7 February 2017). "Mike Pence's Vote on a Cabinet Nominee Would Be Historic". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  4. Baker, Neal (November 24, 2016). "Who is Betsy DeVos? Donald Trump's billionaire choice for Education Secretary". The Sun.
  5. Congressional Staff Directory, Fall 2006: 110th Congress, First Session, p. 903
  6. Mead, Rebecca (December 14, 2016). "Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools". The New Yorker. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  7. Gordon, Neil. "Profiles: Organizational Donor: Elizabeth DeVos" Archived 2011-08-22 at the Wayback Machine., The Center For Public Integrity. May 26, 2005
  8. 8.0 8.1 Medema, Kate (2003-02-07). "DeVos starts fresh, familiar position". Chimes. 97 (16). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Calvin College. Archived from the original on 2004-05-07. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  9. Mark, Michelle (November 25, 2016). "Meet Betsy DeVos, the polarizing charter-school advocate Trump has tapped as education secretary". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  10. Rachael Revesz, January 10th 2017,Betsy DeVos' senate confirmation delayed amid concerns over her political donations, The Independent, retrieved January 20th 2017.
  11. "Betsy DeVos, Trump's pick for education secretary, open to defunding public schools". NBC News. January 17, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  12. Hutterman, Emmarie (7 February 2017). "Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary; Pence Breaks Tie". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  13. "Betsy DeVos and her No Good, Very Bad Record on Public Education". Education Votes. 2019-03-22. Retrieved 2019-12-02.
  14. Mitchell, Natalie Andrews, Alex Leary and Josh (2021-01-08). "Schumer, Pelosi Call for Trump's Removal After Capitol Riot". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-01-08.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. Betsy Devos [@BetsyDeVosED] (7 January 2021). "" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  16. Choi, Joseph (January 7, 2020). "Betsy DeVos resigns as Education Secretary". The Hill. Retrieved January 7, 2020.[permanent dead link]

Other websites[change | change source]