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How DeVos family donations have influenced Michigan education

Dec 15, 2016

When Donald Trump announced West Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as his pick for Secretary of Education, reaction was mixed. Many wondered aloud how someone who has advocated for major changes in education, but who has never taught, would be qualified for the post. 

Recent secretaries have included a former Governor, the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, a former college dean and school superintendent and others with doctorates in education. Virtually every piece written about the nomination of Betsy DeVos describes her along the lines of as a "Michigan philanthropist" or a "leading Republican donor". 

Others think at least a part of the answer as to why she was nominated for this post lies in the deep pockets of the DeVos family.

Craig Mauger, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, joined Stateside to talk about the DeVos family and the impact they have had on Michigan politics, education and beyond.

According to a recent article written by Mauger, the DeVos family has given roughly $14 million to political campaigns and causes over the last two years. They have spent more than the state PACs for the United Auto Workers (UAW) or the Michigan Education Authority (MEA) combined.

"They are a force unlike any other family," said Mauger.

Betsy DeVos and her family have been one of the biggest supporters of for-profit charter schools and schools of choice and she is expected, if confirmed, to bring that same approach to her role as Secretary of Education.   

The DeVos family is not throwing their money away either. For example, according to Mauger, they gave at least $7,000 to 34 state House candidates and 30 of them will be in the Legislature next year. 

Listen to the full interview to hear how well-orchestrated the spending is with the DeVos family's giving and Betsy's education policies and how she works to achieve them.

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