Look! Look at Betsy! Look how pretty she is! Wow. Her hair is so blonde. She is 61 years old and her hair is still blonde! Neat! Look at her eyes! See how blue her eyes are? Clack clack clack go Betsy’s heels as she enters the room. Swish swish swish goes Betsy’s skirt. Betsy must be powerful. Everyone is staring at Betsy. Everyone watches Betsy sit down. Snap snap snap go cameras in Betsy’s face. Everyone wants to see Betsy. Today Betsy is wearing pink lipstick. But Betsy does not smile at the cameras. Betsy seems angry. Oh, no. I wonder what is wrong with Betsy.
Is that Betsy’s family over there? Let’s meet Betsy’s family. Betsy has four children, five grandchildren, and a husband named Dick. Dick is very handsome. Handsome is the boy version of pretty. How could Betsy be sad with such a nice family?
Chop, chop, chop goes Betsy’s helicopter. I wonder where Betsy is going. Oh, Betsy is going to Michigan! Why is Betsy going to Michigan? Oh, oh! She lives there. Betsy is going home after a hard day at work.
Woosh go the doors of the Devos mansion. Wow, Betsy’s house is so big! I want a house that big! Betsy’s house has one pool, one elevator, three bedrooms, three kitchens, eight dishwashers, ten bathrooms, and thirteen porches. Why are there three bedrooms and ten bathrooms? And thirteen porches! Betsy must be rich. How rich is Betsy?
Betsy is so rich she has one yacht, four helicopters, ten boats, and a fleet of twelve private jets! She is so rich her children did not have to go to public school! They went to private school or were homeschooled. She is so rich she thought free lunches were fake! She did not know that poor people can get free food from their schools. Which kitchen does Betsy use to make her lunch?
Oh, oh! I see. Do you see? I see Forbes reporting on Betsy’s wealth. Wow! Look at that! Forbes says Betsy’s family is worth $5.4 billion. That number has nine zeros in it. That is a lot of zeros. I wonder what you could do with $5.4 billion. You could buy everyone in America sixteen donuts. That is so many donuts! Oh, my! You could also give everyone in the whole entire world $0.70! That’s almost enough money for three gumballs.
What does Betsy do? She must be very smart if she has so much money! But her friend Donald calls her “Ditzy Devos.” That is very mean. But Betsy does not think people really trust Donald. Maybe she is not real friends with Donald. You should be nice to your friends!
Some of Betsy’s friends say nice things about her. They say she is an ally to the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, and Queer! One time, at her old job, Betsy told people to let a trans woman use whatever bathroom she wanted. This made other people mad, but Betsy didn’t care! That is called character!
Betsy also has gay friends. Betsy even has gay, Republican friends. Those are hard to find! Betsy wrote a letter of support for her friend Greg McNeill when he and his husband wanted to adopt a child. Nice! Betsy also asked her friends to help make gay marriage legal. She had them sign a piece of paper. Then she sent that paper to powerful people. This is called a petition. The powerful people made gay marriage legal. Betsy did not sign the paper, but her other friends did!
Ooh, look! Betsy is paddle boarding. Betsy likes water. Betsy hopes she does not fall in. The water in Lake Macatawa is so dirty. People call the lake “Lake Macatoilet.” That is so funny. It is a good thing people do not drink that water! But Dick and Betsy still want to clean that water.
The people in Flint, Michigan do not have clean drinking water. The people in Flint are sick. They say that it’s Dick and Betsy’s fault. Why is it Dick and Betsy’s fault that people in Flint are sick? Dick and Betsy do not live near Flint. Oh! Listen! The sick people say it is because Dick and Betsy spent millions of dollars to put Governor Rick Snyder in power. And Rick signed the Emergency Manager Act into law! It’s such a long story! But Dick and Betsy felt bad. Dick and Betsy own a boxed water company. They felt so bad for the sick people in Flint that they had a sale on their water. Dick and Betsy gave the city of Flint one free case of boxed water every time someone else paid full price for a different case.
Bang, bang! Did you hear that? I think that noise was fireworks. Oh, no! That noise was not fireworks. That noise was a gun! Betsy flinches and thinks about her brother. Betsy’s brother is named Erik. Erik was paid to kill people. He was involved with the Nisour Square Massacre. Seventeen people died in a public square in Baghdad because of Erik!
Erik owned a company called Blackwater (now Academi). It is a spooky company. Blackwater hired mercenaries for secret missions. What is a mercenary? A mercenary is a soldier, who does military things, like killing people, for money. They can work for anyone. Ooh, ooh! They are hitmen! Neat! In 2007, the government paid Blackwater $1, 222 a day for each private soldier. Wow! That is a lot of money! That is six times what a real soldier would be paid!
Hmm, did Betsy get her money from killing people too? Erik allegedly made $200 million when he sold Blackwater! Oh, oh! I know where Betsy got her money! It is not from her job. It is not from her job at all. Betsy is an heiress! Wow. What is an heiress? An heiress is someone who gets her money from someone else. Where did Dick get his money? Oh, wow! Look, Dick is an heir. That is the boy version of an heiress. Dick’s dad is named Dick too. Little Dick got his money from Big Dick. Dick and Betsy have a lot of money from their parents. Good for Dick and Betsy!
What did Dick’s dad do? Dick’s dad founded the Amway Company. It made $8.8 billion in 2018. Amway is a “multi-level marketing company that sells health, beauty, and home care products.” Amway sells an energy drink. Energy is good! Amway’s energy drink is called XS. XS can cure depression. XS can reduce BAC by 70%. Wow! That means you can drive drunk if you drink XS! XS has 137% more caffeine in it than soda! That is so much energy. I want some XS! But some people say Amway is a scam? Let’s ask Marie! Marie is a reporter for This American Life. Marie says, “I don’t want to say that everyone involved is a scammer or a con man or whatever, but I would say that business model is unsustainable in the regular marketplace. Legitimate companies don’t work this way for a reason.” Oh, boy! Oh, wow! Oh, no! Amway’s largest market is in China. In Chinese, Amway is “an li.” Now “an li” is slang for “promote heavily” or “be brainwashed.”
Look! Look! Betsy got a job in the government. That’s funny! Betsy thinks the “government really sucks.” But Dick and Betsy have spent over $200 million on the GOP. Maybe she wants to change the government since it sucks so much! Congratulations on your new job, Betsy! What is Betsy’s job? Oh, wow. Betsy is the Secretary of Education. How did Betsy get that job? She must have studied education policy! My mom is a teacher. My mom has two degrees in education. My mom teaches first grade. Betsy must have many degrees if she has such an important job!
What? Did you hear that? Betsy got an honorary doctorate from Bethune-Cookman University. But that made people confused. BCU is a Historically Black College or University. Betsy thinks HBCUs are good for school choice. But that is not what school choice means! Betsy should do more research on the topic. Betsy did not study education or policy. Betsy went to Calvin College. Maybe my mom should be the Secretary of Education.
Now that Betsy has that job, she can help charter schools! She can help charter schools instead of public schools. Betsy thinks public schools are a “dead end.” Betsy wants to use charter schools to “advance God’s Kingdom.” Betsy’s husband Dick started a school where kids can learn how to fly planes. It is called The West Michigan Aviation Academy! Their students are soaring to Heaven!
Do you remember Betsy’s gay friends? I do! Now that Betsy has such an important job maybe she can help more gay people! Maybe she can help more gay students! Gay children are three times as likely to have thought about suicide than their straight peers! Gay children are five times more likely to have attempted suicide than their straight peers!
But Betsy does not help the gay students. Betsy changed a law that made it possible for transgender students to use the bathroom they felt comfortable with. I think her friend Donald told her to do that.
Look, look! There is representative Katherine Clark! Katherine is yelling at Betsy! Why is Katherine yelling at Betsy? Katherine is yelling at Betsy because Betsy will not answer her questions. Katherine is asking Betsy about the Lighthouse Christian Academy. That is a school in Bloomington, Indiana. It currently receives $665,000 in federally funded state vouchers. The school may not let in students whose families engage “heterosexual activity outside of one man-one-woman marriage,” who practice “homosexual or bisexual activity,” or who practice “alternate gender identity.” Betsy does not think it is her job to rule on that discrimination. Is that what Betsy meant when she said she wanted to “spread God’s kingdom”? God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Heavens to Betsy!
Lots of students and lots of schools need Betsy’s help. So many of them need her help that she says their complaints place an “unreasonable burden” on her. Betsy must be very busy.
Chop, chop, chop goes Betsy’s helicopter! I wonder where Betsy is going now. Betsy chooses not to visit bad schools. But Betsy knows maybe she should! She could be going to one of those schools now! One time Betsy went to Jefferson Academy Middle School. That is a school in Washington, DC. So many people were mad that Betsy was there! They had lots of signs and mean words! Betsy had to sneak in through a side door. Then Betsy met with the teachers and the students. Then, Betsy said mean things about the school on Twitter. Oh, well. Betsy has so many schools to keep track of. It must be hard. Good thing it is not her job to keep track of the schools! Oh, wait! It is her job. She is the Secretary of Education.
Ooh, ooh! Maybe Betsy is going to visit students in Parkland.
Bang, bang! Oh, no! Not again. Betsy flinches. She hopes it is not her brother’s company this time! Oh, those shots were not from soldiers! They were from other mean people. They were from mean people who got into schools. Do you know how many school shootings occurred in 2018? Eighty-two school shootings occurred in the United States in 2018. That is a lot of bullets.
Bang, bang! Ugh, did you hear that? No? Am I making things up? I think a teacher shot a bear outside a school in Wyoming! That did not happen? But Betsy said that teachers need guns to protect students from bears. Oh, oh! The school said the teachers do not need guns because there is a fence. Betsy thinks that sometimes guns belong in schools because sometimes there are bears near schools. There were only five bear attacks in America in 2018.
Betsy wants to change rules that help female students. Ugh. I am a woman. What is Betsy saying?
Listen! Listen! Betsy says that maybe a man who is falsely accused of sexual assault suffers as much as a woman who has been sexually assaulted. Betsy thinks the two things are almost the same. Betsy thinks men accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment should have the right to cross-examine women during college disciplinary hearings. Are colleges the same as court rooms? Terry Hartle doesn’t think so! And Terry is a senior vice president at the American Council on Education.
Barack defined sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” Betsy defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.” Oh, boy. That is much more complicated. There are so many conditions! It might be hard to prove all of those things. Betsy also wants schools to know they do not have to respond to every incident. That would probably be a lot of paperwork. Paperwork is hard. Schools only need to respond to incidents if they were reported to “an official with the authority to take corrective action” and if the incident happened during a school activity. Only 2% of sexual assault and rape allegations are found to be false.
Chop, chop, chop goes Betsy’s helicopter as she touches down in D.C. Swish, swish, swish goes Betsy’s skirt. Down, down, down falls Betsy’s face. Let’s find out why Betsy is in a bad mood!
Ooh, ooh! Betsy is in a bad mood because Betsy has to defend budget cuts to the Special Olympics. People think it is her idea. But is it her idea? Betsy donates part of her salary to the Special Olympics. Why would she want to hurt them? Betsy does not have a lot of answers. She says that hard choices had to be made. It does not sound like it was her idea! I wonder if it was her friend Donald’s idea! But Donald says, “The Special Olympics will be funded. I’ve been to the Special Olympics,” says Donald, “and I think it’s incredible! I just authorized a funding! I heard about [the proposed cuts] this morning and I have overridden my people!”
But Betsy said “I am pleased and grateful the President and I see eye-to-eye on this issue and that he has decided to fund our Special Olympics grant. This is funding I have fought for behind the scenes over several years.”
Betsy Devos wants to hurt children with disabilities! That is what the lying Washington Post implied. Betsy does not want to cut the budget of the Individuals with Disabilities Act. Betsy did rescind 72 policy documents for disabled students. Rescind is a verb that means to revoke, cancel, or repeal. People were very angry at Betsy because of that too. Then, the Washington Post realized she might have real reasons. They wrote a new article and quote a smart guy named Bill! The smart guy named Bill said that “the move would not effect how schools accommodate students with disabilities.” It is hard to know who to listen to!
Well Betsy hurts some people and some people hurt Betsy.
At least Betsy has Dick! And Dick has Betsy! And they have their big, big house. They have their planes and boats and helicopters and children and grandchildren. Sometimes Betsy feels misunderstood. But Betsy at least always has Michigan and God and her family and lots of lots of money. Look how nice Betsy’s life is!