In her most recent introduction to the Washington, D.C., scene, and to many parts of the country more broadly, some individuals concluded that Betsy DeVos, the Trump Administration Secretary of Education, was something of a political neophyte and lightweight. Those who have known DeVox for any period of time before her nomination to the Cabinet post were surprised at how some people reacted to her.
The nomination hearings before the U.S. Senate for DeVox did not go particularly smoothly. She has admitted privately that she did not probably put on her best performance. When it came time to vote on approving her nomination, the Vice President was called into to break a tie vote. The vote was along party lines, with a couple of GOP defections.
One of the issues DeVox confronted during her first year in office as Secretary of Education involved President Trump’s decision to reverse the decision of the Obama Administration regarding transgender individuals and public school bathrooms. The Obama Administration implemented a policy that permitted public school students the ability to use the restroom based on the gender with which each person individually identified.
When Secretary DeVos learned of Trump’s intention to reverse this policy, she quietly lobbied the President to keep it in place. Despite her misgivings about reversing the policy, when Trump made his decision, she conducted herself as a team player. She even spoke at a major conservative convention directly after the reversal in policy. During her presentation, she took the President’s line that the Obama Administration had encroached on the rights of the states when it created its transgender bathroom policy.
In advance of the President announcing his decision about the public school bathroom issue, DeVos called representatives of gay and transgender employees to her office. She wanted to alert them to what was coming in regard the bathroom policy. She explained her own personal opinion on the subject, that she had lobbied the President to not reverse Obama-era policy, but would have to support the President now that a decision had been made.
Although many people concluded DeVos was a political novice when she entered the Department of Education, she actually is a political activist. She served as the chairperson of the Republican Party of Michigan. Her husband, Dick, ran for Governor.
School choice is a primary concern for DeVos. She has been a leading advocate for school choice, not only in Michigan, but across the United States.
In addition to her involvement in politics for an extended period of time, DeVos and her husband are generous philanthropists. She is from a wealthy family herself. Her husband is the son of the man who founded AmWay. They both have spent a great deal of their time and money on organizations and causes they support (http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2017/01/dick_and_betsy_devos_lift_the.html). Before coming to Washington to become the Secretary of Education, DeVos was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve on the board of directors of the Kennedy Center. In that role, she established and funded and arts in education program through the Kennedy Center.