There is the Betsy DeVos the media knows. Then there is the Betsy DeVos who is a political fighter, passionate about education, who has plunged full-force into her job as the U.S. Secretary of Education.
She is polite, treats others with respect and defers to authority even though she disagrees on some issues. For instance, she disagreed with the Trump administration over rescinding the federal policy that allowed students identifying as a different gender to use facilities of their choice. Yet, there was never a public rift between her and the president.
Yet, those who know DeVos say she is anything but meek. In fact, they say she is someone to be feared for her political prowess as well as her determination.
“I found Betsy to be very determined, steely when she sets her mind on a goal,” said former Michigan state attorney general Mike Cox.
The media, which routinely portrayed her during her confirmation process as lacking in government experience and no public education knowledge, is discovering they perhaps underestimated the Michigan native.
DeVos got involved in politics and education in the 1990s when she served on two nonprofits to promote education reform. She and her husband, Dick, helped to pass the first charter school bill in Michigan. She also chaired the Michigan Republican Party for several years and started the Great Lakes Education Project.
DeVos was raised to be a reformer. Her father, Prince of the Prince empire, was a conservative Christian. She was raised in Holland, Mich., and the cities ties to Netherland culture is given as one possible reason for her activism.
The education secretary has been on the move since she took over the department. She has been visiting schools, both public and charter, around the country to gain a grasp on how to improve the system. She went to Miami in 2017 and toured both traditional public schools, private Christian schools and a charter school established by rapper Pitbull a.k.a Armando Christian Perez.
The DeVoses continue to support causes privately. The couple has donated more than $139 million to education, cultural and political causes over their lifetimes. They gave approximately $11.6 million in 2015, the most recent year public records are available.
Follow Betsy DeVos on twitter for updates.