An Artist Performs
In a year full of surprising moves, President Trump’s appointment of conservative activist Betsy Devos to the position of education secretary was one of the most attention-getting. Ms. Devos has served in Michigan as a Republican party Chairwoman, and she is also known for her activism in the service of charter schools. Ms. Devos has never been involved in public education, however, and her children did not attend public schools. All of this raised eyebrows when Ms. Devos became head of the Department of Education, but the thinking was that she would be a somewhat meek follower of the Trump administration’s policies.
Many of those who know Ms. Devos from her political work in Michigan, however, characterize her as anything but meek. Ms. Devos comes from a wealthy Michigan family, and her husband, Dick Devos, is the son of the founder of the Amway Corporation. Ms. Devos is a billionaire, and she is said to have used her wealth and influence to reward her political allies and to fiercely fight against those who have opposed her.
The Transgender Issue
One of the moves that has drawn attention to Ms. Devos this year is her stance on the Trump administration’s move to rescind a federal ruling that allows transgender students to use bathrooms that match their current gender assignment (http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20161113/NEWS/161119931/river-lake-projects-in-west-michigan-look-to-improve-valued). In public Ms. Devos seemed to support Trump’s move, as she stated that the federal government’s guidelines on the use of restrooms by transgender students was “an example of the Obama administration’s overreach.” Ms. Devos’ private actions, however, tell a different tale.
The New York Times has reported that Ms. Devos met privately with a representative for the parents in her department whose children are gay and transgender students. Ms. Devos was acting to warn the families of the students about the ruling in advance, so they would have time to prepare. An aide at the meeting reportedly said that Ms. Devos did not agree with the ruling by the Trump administration, but in public, she has shown a different attitude on the issues, to say the least.
All of this leaves many political watchers wondering where exactly Ms. Devos stands on other current issues. Is she really a Trump supporter, or will her own feelings on the issues hold sway? Time will tell, as the unpredictable actions of this administration continue to confound.