Tours Choctaw (FL) Aerospace Institute
Dick DeVos, Detroit's
2006 gubernatorial candidate launched the most expensive
gubernatorial campaign in Michigan's history, at $41 million (he
lost). DeVos is the son of billionaire Amway co-founder Richard
DeVos. He is co-owner of the NBA's Orlando Magic.
And as an avid pilot, DeVos has new ideas for new industries for
Michigan, a state more often thought as home to America's
automobile industry. DeVos is looking to open a charter aviation
institute in Detroit, reports the Northwest Florida Daily News.
And what better way to garner winning ideas than to see what
another program has successfully instituted, such as that of
Choctawhatchee High School's Aviation Institute.
Okaloosa County school officials guided DeVos through Choctaw's
Aviation Institute facilities Friday morning, during which DeVos
expressed concern for Michigan's public education system.
"This is just not right. We've got to do a better job," he said.
"Detroit's probably the worst public school system in America."
"We're coming out of the old industrial model, where frankly,
education was what you did until you could get a job at one of the
auto companies," he said. "The college degree is not fully embraced
DeVos learned about Okaloosa County's CHOICE (Community High:
Okaloosa Institutes for Community Education) through the school's
partner, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute.
How easy is it to impress a billionaire? DeVos was impressed,
especially with the school's ability to create a new program
"within the context of the existing School District." Choctaw
Principal Cindy Massarelli explained to DeVos how CHOICE's success
is related to "reculturing the society" and its view on
CHOICE has gained national
recognition in recent months and has hosted government and school
officials from around the country.
As others show interest, Massarelli said, "we've created a
culture that (students) are proud of."
Passionate about the benefits of aviation, DeVos said it's
"mind-expanding in so many dimensions."
And sustainability as a nation is linked to finding passion in
students who may otherwise be foundering, he said.
CHOICE's programs are "extraordinarily encouraging about what
the future of public education can be in America," DeVos said.
"This really is a big deal. It really is about the future of our
DeVos, who is visiting schools throughout the country, said his
plans are still in the preliminary stage.
"There's still a lot of work that needs to be done."