DeVos' Michigan schools experiment gets poor grades - 2016-12-09
Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick, are billionaires who have funneled millions of dollars in campaign donations to support lawmakers who push school choice — a broad term used to promote the idea that parents shouldn't be locked into neighborhood public schools but should have other options, including publicly funded charter and in some cases, private and parochial schools.
All told, the DeVoses have contributed at least $7 million to lawmakers and the state Republican Party in recent years, and their influence can be seen in just about every major piece of education-related legislation in Michigan since the 1990s. That includes the 1993 law that permitted charters in the state and a 2011 vote to lift a cap on the number of charter schools in the state.
Michigan permits practices barred by some other states, such as for-profit charter operators, virtual charter schools and multiple charter-authorizing bodies. Along the way, fraud and waste has been a problem — one charter school spent more than $1 million on acquiring swampland it doesn't use, The Detroit Free Press has reported. A federal audit this year noted that Michigan's charter-school law doesn't include rules regarding conflicts of interest, among other issues.