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Betsy DeVos in Grand Rapids to visit a Private School, with ties to the Acton Institute

September 13, 2020

On Saturday, MLive reported that US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos would be in Grand Rapids to visit a school, “with the intent of showcasing how the school safely reopened during the coronavirus pandemic.” 

DeVos has come under fire since she first began pushing for schools to re-open in mid-July. Then on August 31st, DeVos wrote an opinion piece for the Detroit News, which was framed as a letter to parents across the country. The letter follows the same mantra from DeVos, always claiming that it all comes down to parental choice. However, Betsy DeVos didn’t miss the opportunity to push her “school choice” message, which is essentially the promotion of school vouchers, the expansion of charter schools and other private school options.

Coming to Sacred Heart Academy

Therefore, it should not be surprising to anyone that the school Betsy DeVos is visiting on Monday morning is Sacred Heart Academy. Sacred Heart Academy is a Catholic School that requires tuition.

The MLive article says that they reached out to the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, but did not receive any response before they posted the story. However, MLive could have contacted another source, more directly related to  Sacred Heart Academy, the pastor of Sacred Heart Church, the Rev. Robert Sirico. Of course, Rev. Sirico is also the founder and President of the Acton Institute.

Since Sirico took over as the priest at Sacred Heart, he has had a significant influence on the direction of Sacred Heart Academy, with major changes in the curriculum during the 2013 – 2014 school year. The fact that Betsy DeVos is visiting the school that the founder of the Acton Institute has control over makes complete sense.

Betsy DeVos and Rev. Sirico have a long history together. Sirico presided over the wedding of her brother Erik Prince, the DeVos family has contributed millions to the Acton Institute since 1990, and Betsy DeVos, her mother and her son Rick DeVos, have all served on the Acton Institute’s Board of Directors.

Betsy DeVos was the keynote speaker at the Acton Institute’s Annual gala in 2017, plus Sirico has gone out of his way to defend the Secretary of Education on numerous occasions, like he did in June of 2018, in an opinion piece the Acton founder wrote in the Detroit News

However, the relationship between Rev. Sirico and Betsy DeVos can best be summed up by their commitment to Capitalism.

It is also worth noting that the Sacred Heart Academy Board of Directors is made up of people who embrace the same ideological values that DeVos and Sirico embrace. First, there is J.T. Weis, who is the CEO of Arbor Industries, a company based in Holland. Weis participated in a panel hosted by the Econ Club of Grand Rapids last year, which talked about the importance of hiring people out of prison, because it opens up a whole new pool of potential employees. Weis and his family are involved in the conservative Catholic radio station Holy Family Radio and they are active participants in the anti-abortion March for Life actions. 

Then there is Michael Miller, who is the Director of Acton Media and a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute. Miller has written a great deal for the Acton Institute’s blog, plus he influences much of the media content for Acton.

Lastly, there is Patrick Kilchermann, who is the founder of the national Concealed Carry University, which provides training for people who want to own guns. Kilchermann believes that God called him to start Concealed Carry University.

Let’s be clear about the fact that Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, is in Grand Rapids to visit a private school, with direct ties to the Acton Institute, which the DeVos and Prince families have supported with millions of dollars for decades.

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