Nancy Kaffer, columnist for the Detroit Free Press, attended the annual meeting of the GOP conference in Michigan on Mackinac Island, where Betsy DeVos was the keynote speaker on Friday night.

Kaffer writes that the mood was one of great satisfaction, bordering on exhilaration:

It’s the 32nd time the party has held such a conclave, but this time it’s different: The GOP exercises control of state government. Of the U.S. Congress. Of — as GOP Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel says — the U.S. Supreme Court. And for the first time since 1988, this state, once part of the vaunted Democratic “blue wall,” went red in a presidential election.

The work wasn’t easy. It took years.

And lots and lots of money. That’s the part DeVos didn’t talk about. But in this venue, it’s impossible to ignore.

The DeVos family has made at least $82 million in political contributions nationally, as much as $58 million of those dollars spent in Michigan — with $14 million in the last two years alone.

There’s something really through-the-looking-glass about DeVos addressing a room full of legislators whose campaigns she has funded, lobbyists whose work she has paid for, and activists whose movements she launched. This is, in a very real way, a room DeVos built, in a state her family has shaped, in a country whose educational policy she now plays a key role in administering.

And we should all pay very close attention to what she has in store for us.

If you question the influence of the DeVos family’s spending, a new analysis by the watchdog Michigan Campaign Finance Network should settle that: In 2016, the candidate with the deepest pockets won 80% of contested races for state or federal office.

DeVos is certain that America’s public schools are failing, and Kaffer doesn’t challenge her certainty (suggestion: Read my book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools–the failure narrative is a hoax).

DeVos is now in a powerful position to spread her philosophy of unconstrained school choice to the rest of the country. But Michigan is left to deal with the mess that the charter movement has wrought.

DeVos’ school-choice movement is predicated on the idea that given options, parents will choose what’s best for their child. She’s not entirely wrong. But this philosophy doesn’t account for parents for whom there are no good options. For many Detroit families, too many neighborhoods offer underperforming public schools and underperforming charters. Not much of a choice for parents desperate to do right by their kids.

And while DeVos says she’s not against traditional public schools, she takes no accountability for the damage done to traditional districts when kids decamp for charters, taking the state’s per-pupil funding with them or the painful reality that while there are strong charter schools that deliver great outcomes, many charters perform worse, or deliver only marginally better results than traditional public schools.

Michigan, far from being DeVos’ proof-of-concept, should be the experiment that gives the lie to the viability of school choice as a panacea to the nation’s educational woes: In Michigan, after two decades, despite some modest gains in science, fewer than half of students test proficient in math and reading.

Parents should have options — strong educational options — and choice alone doesn’t provide them. What would? Investment in what we know works: Highly qualified teachers paid competitive salaries. Wraparound services for children whose parents struggle to provide the advantages some kids are born to. Functional transportation, so that quality choice for parents is something more than a concept. A willingness to look behind an uncompromising ideological agenda at the people whom that agenda should serve.

But poor Betsy! She can’t admit that Michigan is a textbook example of the failure of school choice. That would contradict her life’s work! That would take away her only talking point. She knows only one thing, and it is wrong.