Secretary of Education, Betsy "we don't need no education" DeVos has not so quietly been dismantling America's education system. While America's news shows are filled with hours upon hours of whatever obnoxious, racist and/or sexist thing is coming out of Trump's mouth, DeVos has managed to take advantage of this distraction. Not only has she filled her department with school choice fanatics, racist anti-civil rights enthusiasts and for-profit charter school advocates, she's also started to use her cabinet level position to promote the DeVos family's business partner's interests.
On Tuesday, DeVos visited the Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. According to their website, the VAEI is:
a nonprofit institution committed to creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking thrive. VAEI is transforming science education by offering student programs, professional development, and instructional tools that bring inquiry-based learning to life and engage students in thinking and acting like scientists.
Sounds like the normal gibberish that one finds on most of the websites of the charter school programs DeVos loves.
Nothing to see here, right? Wrong.
The Van Andel family is the counterpart to the DeVos family. Betsy's father-in-law is Richard DeVos. Richard co-founded Amway (now called Alticor) with Jay Van Andel in 1959. Today, Amway is a giant corporation found in many countries that embodies what many have referred to as the concept of the pyramid scheme business model. Distributors can buy Amway's products and then turn around and sell them locally at a markup. But to earn more money, Amway encourages it's distributors to recruit other sellers and offers them a percentage of those sales.
The Van Andels are literally a mirror image of the DeVos family. Both families have multiple foundations that have contributed to ultra conservative groups like Focus on the Family, The Heritage Foundation, the Council for National Policy, American Legislative Exchange Council...you get the idea. In fact, it is not even a stretch to say that were it not for the Van Andel, DeVos and Koch families, these groups would not even exist.
The Van Andel family and DeVos family still own Amway jointly. The VAEI's funding primarily comes from an endowment from the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation which was created by money from Amway. When Betsy DeVos visited the VAEI as Secretary of Education, she was not only promoting an educational institution, she was using her position to promote an institution owned by her family's business partner.
Is DeVos intending to give the VAEI taxpayer money to help fund its education programs? Much like Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos does not know the meaning of ethics or conflicts of interest.