Betsy Devos visited a select sampling of schools with different educational backgrounds in the Miami-area. Those schools included a public school, a private Christian school, two higher education institutions, and a charter school that was initiated by the rap star Pitbull. Devos, who is a Conservative Christian, visited the charter school with Pitbull to show her support for school choice.
Florida is considered a model for school choice and has been visited by Betsy Devos three times. She is an ally of the former Florida state governor Jeb Bush and his support for the voucher programs that use public money for private and religious school tuitions and the development of charter schools. The Devos family has ties to Florida due to her father-in-law buying the Orlando Magic Basketball team, and the family continues to own the team to this day.
Betsy Devos also visited the CARE elementary school which was the former Chrisitan Academy for Reaching Excellence. The CARE school takes part in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program allowing corporations and private business to donate money for scholarships to assist low-income students the ability to attend a private school. She also visited the SLAM, or sports leadership and management, charter schools. The for-profit company Academia runs SLAM and other charter schools in the Miami area. Academia is one of the largest for-profit school management companies in the state of Florida with noted ties to state legislators. State legislator Erek Fresen’s brother-in-law is the founder of Academia. Fresen has been the target of an ethics violation due to his close ties to the charter school financing industry. Some critics have voiced concerns over the violation of the constitution’s separation of church and state.
Some people in the Miami area were concerned and unhappy with the fact Pitbull was the celebrity founder of the SLAM school. The concern stems from the rappers song lyrics and his abuse of alcohol and drugs. Some have complained that his appearances are a marketing ploy for the charter school. Florida assigns grades to each school resulting on state test grades and other rating criteria. The SLAM school received a C.
Pitbull’s keynote speech at the charter school conference has also become a trending topic due to his reference to Bill Cosby as a former speaker at the same conference. John Oliver made a comedic reference to the speech on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” in 2016. The reference further reinforced concerns of Pitbull supporting a charter school.
To learn more, visit http://www.betsydevos.com/.