One of the most important forces in the charter school movement has been somebody who would strike many as a surprising figure to be such a pivotal leader. Dick DeVos, one of West Michigan’s most prominent businessmen, has long been involved in the charter school movement, enjoying some of its earliest successes and leading the way for others to who wish to follow charter school models that have proven themselves to be both effective and desirable for parents who are looking for an alternative to public education for their children.
One of the most important contributions that DeVos has made to the charter school movement is that of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter school dedicated solely to teaching enthusiastic high school students the trades of aviation and aeronautical engineering. Incredibly, over half of the student body of West Michigan Aviation Academy comes directly from the most underprivileged demographics in the West Michigan area. What is so incredible about the West Michigan Aviation Academy story is that the kids that populate its student body are from the same neighborhoods that routinely produce some of the worst students in the entire country. While school districts such as those of the downtown Grand Rapids area, produce entire classes of students that contain no one who is proficient in either math or science on standardized tests, West Michigan Aviation Academy has been able to get almost all of its students to pass at the level of basic proficiency on science, math and reading. In fact, many of the classes of West Michigan Aviation Academy have produced standardized test rankings that would squarely put the academy in the top 10 percent of all high schools in the state.
Results like these put the lie to the idea that students from underprivileged backgrounds are incapable of learning at the same level as their most privileged peers. Because of the enormous success of charter schools like West Michigan Aviation Academy, which is just one of many schools that Dick DeVos has personally been involved with that have been able to post such remarkable results, it is well past time that the educational establishment of the United States, oftentimes run by rapacious teachers unions and other special interest that do not have the actual education of students at heart, takes a strong and introspective look at itself and how it is going about its business.
At the end of the day, there can be little doubt that the successes that Dick DeVos has been able to prove with the charter schools that he has both designed and personally financed are both replicable and extremely important.
To learn more, visit http://dickdevos.com/.