Since being confirmed by the Senate to become the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has been a busy advocate for the Trump Administration’s plans to completely revamp the American educational system. DeVos grew up in Michigan where she became a popular member of the Michigan Republican Party, serving a chairwoman for almost half of a decade. DeVos’ ascent to popularity, and eventual federal status, was due in large part to her conservative reform plans for education. She became a champion for school choice and the voucher system originally made popular by Milton Friedman more than 50 years ago. Now, DeVos is putting herself into the public arena in order to champion for more causes such as freedom of speech on college campuses and the fight for more strict gun reform in and around schools.
Betsy DeVos has become an almost iconic member of the Republican party because she is a strong figure for many conservative values but she is also a proponent of some moderate ones as well. In the wake of the historically tragic Parkland school shooting, where 17 students were killed, DeVos joined the calls of Democratic Congressional representatives to take a closer look at how gun reform can start to prevent these school shootings that have become so popular of late. While not a traditionally popular platform for establishment conservatives, DeVos’ willingness to join in on the gun reform conversation is indicative of a completely flexible and free-thinking leader. While gun reform is unlikely to happen overnight, the fact that DeVos joined in on the conversation is immensely important.
In a surprising turn of event, DeVos was extremely fiery in the language that she used in order to lobby for some sort of gun reform resolution. DeVos pointed the finger directly at Congress, and largely at the side seated by Republicans, when saying that “Congress needs to be holding hearings on these issues”. This strict departure from strict conservatism is both refreshing and indicative of the value that her voice brings to a Trump administration that can run the risk of ostracizing the other side of the political aisle on important legislative issues.
Outside of the debate on gun reform in schools, DeVos has also been vocal in attempting to make a difference in the way freedom of speech is being addressed on college campuses around the country. DeVos herself points to the fact that many prominent conservatives have been met with protesting and strikes whenever they come to schools to speech, citing Berkely specifically as an example. DeVos goes on to advocate the importance of “entertaining new thoughts and ideas”, citing her own personal history in higher education as she had attended Calvin College back home in Michigan. DeVos goes on to explain how important freedom of expression is to the Trump administration and she makes it clear that change needs to come to these campuses. However, you can’t coerce change from the outside-looking-in so you have to hope that more students stand up and make their voices heard.
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