For Insight Into the Secretary of Education’s Views, View Her Education

In Education On

Mr. Vanderlaan could not have missed his lesson’s echoes of Holland Christian’s most famous graduate, Betsy DeVos, who proclaimed in an audio recording that surfaced in December that her education advocacy would “advance God’s kingdom.” Last month, in her first commencement address as education secretary, Ms. DeVos again reflected her own education when she told graduates at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., that “my generation hasn’t done a great job when it comes to dealing with one another in grace.”

She continued, “You have an opportunity to do better.”

Holland Christian is one of several western Michigan nonpublic schools that have helped shape Ms. DeVos’s views of elementary and secondary education, and that her critics fear she will draw from to upend the nation’s public schools. The private Christian school that she attended, another that she sent her children to and a hardscrabble private religious school that she has long supported have dominated her time, money and attention..

Public neighborhood schools — the vast majority of schools in this country — were hardly present in the billionaire’s childhood or adult life.

Critics say this lopsided exposure fueled Ms. DeVos’s staunch support of privately run, publicly funded charter schools and voucher programs that allow families to take tax dollars from the public education system to private schools.

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