Betsy DeVos recently held an in-depth interview with Philanthropy. In it, she talked about her bold and controversial ideas and plans for the American education system notably the private school’s voucher funding initiatives. The interviewer’s first question to Betsy was about the advances made thus far in school choice. In her response, Mrs. DeVos started off by saying how proud she was about progress achieved in giving needy private school students a chance to receive tax-free rebates from the government.
Rethinking American Education
Her agenda had so far benefited about a quarter million students located on the four corners of the North American sub-continent. The future looks bright, and Betsy is quite hopeful that in the coming years, the programs will be operating in all the 54 states. In 2015, the movement she and the husband embarked on three decades back seemed to add up to 40K new participants annually.
Making A Real Difference
In the interview, Betsy DeVos talks about how together with the husband, they would visit a particular school in their home state, Michigan many years now gone. The one peculiar thing which drew them to this institution is that they noticed the love between the broke parents and their children at the private Christian School. They had to do something. What started out as a pet project of helping one or two pupils of Potters Christian School soon turned into a life-long pursuit. Before the Devoses knew it, they had engineered a support system infrastructure connecting the entire population at the facility.
Making of a Radical Reformer
According to Betsy, the traditional education curriculum has failed miserably in preparing the scholars on what awaits them in the real world. That’s why she chose to focus all her energy and attention on arm-twisting the government to renege on their selective funding of public schools programs. Soon after leaving Calvin College with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts, she got married shortly after that. Together with his partner, Dick DeVos, they vehemently campaigned for the first charter school bill to pass in the nineties.
Learn more: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/01/31/512507538/under-devos-heres-how-school-choice-might-work
Florida as the Benchmark
Betsy DeVos hopes to replicate the successful model of the program in Florida in the entire nation, moving forward. Betsy’s personal involvement in the grassroots in Louisiana saw thousands of student benefit from the newly introduced test voucher program. Mrs. DeVos protests that the Democrats have stood in their path every step of the way. The Democrats ties to the teachers union make it nearly impossible for them to vote with their conscience. The incoming Secretary of Education urged the Democrats to act in the interests of the children and the future of the nation first and place partisan politics second. Betsy is now a grandmother five times over. She once served as the leader of the Republican Party in Michigan. Her stint there lasted a whole six years.
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George Soros is a hedge fund billionaire who became famous for making a billion dollars by shorting the pound in 1992. Mr. Soros has been in semi-retirement but he is still very influential as his predictions have impacts on the market. He is also active politically and he has a track record of supporting liberal candidates and issues such as criminal justice reform.
Soros was born and raised in Hungary to non-practicing Jews. His father Tividar Schwartz was a professional attorney. In 1936 Tividar changed the family name to Soros which means “will soar”. In 1944, when Soros was fourteen, Nazi Germany conquered and occupied Budapest. Tividar decided to split his family so as to maximize their chances of survival. He bribed government officials to conceal their Jewish heritage and he purchased forged papers that identified them as Christians.
In 1947 Tividar relocated the Soros family to England. George Soros attended the London School of Economics where he read the works of the philosopher Karl Popper. George Soros would later identify Popper as his spiritual mentor. Popper’s theory of an open society would come to play a principal role in Soros activities for the rest of his life. Open society is a moral code that espouses the principles of enhancing welfare for all of mankind. Popper rejected the assertion that certain truths are indisputable and that certain rights such as the right to life are unalienable. These beliefs are evidenced in Soros’ disdain of American politicians who have an unshaken belief in their culture’s nobility. Read more on NYTimes.com.
After graduating from the London School of Economics in 1952, Soros joined Singer and Friedlander, a brokerage firm based in London. Within a short period of time Soros became an expert in international arbitrage. In 1956 Soros relocated to New York and he became a stock trader. In 1961 Soros became a US citizen. In 1969 George Soros established his hedge fund the Double Eagle Fund with $4 million capital. The fund was renamed to The Quantum Fund in 1979. The value of the fund grew from $381 million in 1980 to $1 billion in 1985.
After the success of his hedge fund Soros ventured into philanthropy. He started by creating various Open Society Foundations. These organizations advance the concept of open societies as championed by Karl Popper. His network of Open Society Foundations has advanced and it is currently available in over 70 countries.
In the 2016 US Presidential election George Soros backed Hillary Clinton. He donated $25 million to her campaign and that of other Democratic candidates. After Trump’s unexpected victory Soros has become more active politically. He views Trump as a threat to the ideals of an open society. In a meeting of Democrat donors known as the Democratic Alliance Mr. Soros committed himself to opposing Trump policies that are contrary to his ideals.
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End Citizens United is a political action committee (PAC) launched in August 2015 working toward campaign finance reforms. The PAC plans on being a major player in 2016, funneling their resources (millions of dollars) on Democratic Candidates competing for Senate and House seats. Richard Carbo, the communication’s director, stated that the group had managed to raise over two million dollars from small donors and the PAC was on track to bring in a sum of between 25 million dollars and 30 million dollars.
End Citizens United’s Goal
End Citizens United’s aim is to amend the constitution and undo the Supreme Court’s ruling which in 2010 unleashed a tide of dark money and Super PACs into politics. Over 325,000 individuals support End Citizens United’s move to pass said legislation. The number of supporters is likely to rise as the group partners with “Ready for Hillary” who will rent out their e-mail list to widen their net and reach more liberal supporters. In the same month of the group’s launch, they announced their participation in endorsing eleven Democratic candidates.
Mr. Carbo addressed this move citing that unlike other PACs who solely focused on campaign finance reforms, the End Citizens United had taken an alternative decisive approach having identified a gap in the political side which included getting people with the capability of changing the existing laws elected. This meant that they had to back candidates supporting campaign reforms and will stand against the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United.
Criticisms of End Citizens United’s Strategy
End Citizens United’s efforts have been met with criticism from campaign finance experts. A constitution amendment requires two-thirds of the House and Senate approval in addition to 75% of the states ratifying the amendment. Professor of law and political science, and a campaign finance regulation professional, Rick Hasen, explained further on the pros and cons of End Citizens United’s move. He gave a hypothetical illustration, citing that even if the group managed to raise 100 million dollars the thought that this amount would facilitate a constitutional amendment through electing sympathetic congress members was a pipe dream.
Mr. Hasen added that a greater chance of getting the law overturned was the confirmation of a new Justice of the Supreme Court who had the capability of being the tie-breaker during a court balance. Mr. Hasen, however, argued that PACs such as End Citizens United served an important role in maintaining the pressure on the Supreme Court alongside other political players and ensuring public awareness of the court’s decision.
About End Citizens United
It was formed on March 1, 2015. The group is a Political Action Committee supported by grassroots donors. End Citizens United has committed themselves to countering the negative impacts of Citizen United through campaign finance reforms. Their mission is to disassemble the country’s rigged political system and fight Big Money through passing state ballot and electing persons in support of campaign finance reforms.