Dick DeVos helps to revolutionize charter schools

Dick DeVos is known throughout the United States as a politician and a prominent member of the Michigan Republican Party. While his name has been inextricably linked to Republican politics, his career has been defined mostly by pursuits more substantive than merely running for office. In fact, aside from his 2006 gubernatorial run in the state of Michigan, DeVos has never personally run for office. It was his narrow loss to the then-incumbent Jennifer Granholm that has cemented his image in the public mind as some kind of career politician. While this association is understandable, it completely ignores the many other accomplishments that DeVos was able to achieve as a member of the private sector.


The number of major contributions that Dick DeVos has made to his home state of Michigan is too high to even guess at, and the individual achievements that he counts among his own are too many to recount. But one of the most significant areas in which DeVos has effectively labored has been in the realm of education reform. Specifically, DeVos has been one of the most important figures in the charter school movement. Not only has DeVos personally designed a number of highly lauded charter schools, but he has also backed the charter school movement on a nationwide level with his own money. All told, DeVos is one of the most important figures in education reform today.


As an autodidact with respect to the field of education, DeVos has been able to accomplish things that had never been done before prior to his involvement in the industry. One example is his New Urban Learning school in Detroit, Michigan. There, DeVos was able to demonstrate beyond any doubt that kids coming from some of the most challenged neighborhoods in the country could be turned into top-flight scholars. DeVos was able to succeed to remarkable degrees where the Detroit Public School System had failed. Students at the New Urban Learning school were able to consistently score among the top quintiles on statewide standardized tests.


Another DeVos contribution is the West Michigan Aviation Academy. This sprawling campus is located on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Like the New Urban Learning school, the West Michigan Aviation Academy caters to afflicted minority students who haven’t had the chance to attend decent schools. And like his other schools, the West Michigan Aviation Academy has routinely produced excellent standardized test scores.


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