Dick DeVos: His Michigan Charter School is a Microcosm of his Entire Life

As long as Michigan billionaire Dick DeVos could remember, he has been interested in aviation. Other than reforming institutions, it has been one of the main passions in his life. Indeed, if he hadn’t been a businessman, he probably would have become a commercial airline pilot. However, he become one of the leaders of the company his father founder, Amway. Still, he felt like he was missing something. His wife Betsy has always been passionate about education, and she decided to encourage to start a charter high school based on aviation at the Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids. Even though Dick had a bit of trepidation at first, he started the endeavor. This high school has grown from about 60 student in a run-down office building to well over 600 students with its own campus on airport property. In a lot of ways, this aviation-based charter high school is symbolic of the life that Dick DeVos has led.

 

First of all, Dick and his wife Betsy have always worked to be a force for the better when it comes to the education system. It first started when Grand Rapids wanted to build some sports stadiums and arenas in their suburb areas instead of in the middle of downtown. The DeVoses were against this idea, so they lobbied long and hard to stop it. This culminated in them transforming the Grand Rapids skyline.

 

It was right about this time that the DeVos family also visited a charter school and saw just how hard-working all of the teachers and parents actually were. Dick and Betsy knew they had been very lucky; they both had been able to get private educations and they had been able to give the same education to their own children. However, they saw these middle-class parents and their children were every bit as deserving of a good education as their children.

 

Thus, this started the impetus for the DeVos to become heavily involved in the issue of school vouchers for education. They realized that if public schools were not cutting the mustard for people, they should have every bit as much a right to send their kid to a better school as the wealthy did. To make a long story short, this is part of the reason why Detroit has the largest concentration of charter school within the country. The DeVos family was active in helping to give Detroit parents better options.

 

Along these same lines, this is part of the reason why Dick started his aviation charter school in the Grand Rapids airport. He and his wife also believe that schools can be centered around a child’s passion, and that is one of the main reasons that the school is flourishing today.

 

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