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Greetings. My name is Walter L. Mathis Sr. and I have been in Grand Rapids for 74 years. I have attended Franklin and South High; both which are public schools. As I look back, I didn’t get the best education while in those schools. My grandson just graduated from high schools and had a hard time with basic reading and writing skills. It has been said that if you “Keep doing the same things over and over the same way and expect different results, that’s insanity.”

Betsy DeVos have been confirmed as our new Secretary of Education. Why not give her a chance to see if she can improve our failing schools that are found in most every inner city school in Michigan. I whole-heartily support her, and I ask that all the people in Michigan, especially Black Americans, to do the same. What have you got to lose?


Betsy’s political involvement has spanned more than 35 years, beginning with her time as a volunteer for President Gerald R. Ford in 1976. Her political service has included numerous Republican leadership roles with campaigns, party organizations and political action committees—many with a focus on education choice and reform.

Betsy was elected chairman of the Michigan Republican Party four times (1996–2005) and served on the Republican National Committee (1992–1998).

Betsy’s political service has included numerous Republican leadership roles.


Betsy and her husband founded the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation in 1989 as a means of giving back. The foundation focuses on causes that fit within the following five categories: community, education, arts, justice, and leadership.

Over the years, the foundation has supported the American Federation for Children, ArtPrize, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oncology Program, the West Michigan Aviation Academy, and more.

With her lifelong interest in art and design, Betsy was nominated by former President George W. Bush to serve on the Board of Trustees for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She and Dick later funded the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland. The Institute focuses on the business side of art—training, supporting and empowering arts managers and their boards on an international scale.

Additionally, she served on the board for ArtPrize, a 19-day, Grand Rapids- based international art competition founded by her son, Rick DeVos.


In 1989, Betsy and her husband Dick started the Windquest Group, where she previously served as Chairman. The Windquest Group invests in a family of companies that provide innovative solutions, services, and products that make the world better.

Q & A – What are five things we might not know about you?

I’m a grandmother! My husband (Dick) and I have four children and five grandchildren.

I was born and raised in Michigan. Born in Holland, Michigan. I’ve been a lifelong resident of Michigan.

I’m an advocate for children. I’ve been involved with education issues for
28 years. I’ve been on the front lines fighting to make education better for all children.

I’m an activist. I’m a total outsider to elective office and government, but I’m no stranger to the political process. A citizen volunteer, I have served in local, state, and national offices.

I’m an entrepreneur. I have started new and innovative companies that help make our community better.

There’s been a lot of talk about Common Core. Can you provide some straight talk on this topic?

Certainly. I am not a supporter — period.

I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When Governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.

Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.

However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.

Above all, I believe every child, no matter their zip code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.

What are your thoughts regarding specific education policies?

I am very excited to get to work and to talk about my thoughts and ideas on making American education great again. The status quo is not acceptable. I am committed to transforming our education system into the best in the world.