Many have seen the news enough to know that the US Education Secretary has been polarizing Americans on the topic of education reform since her appointment in 2016. Betsy DeVos is one of the most powerful women in Washington. She has been a champion for educational choice as a way to improve America’s schools, and many have watched the campaign grow over the years from where it started in Michigan. However, she has been having difficulty getting the measures passed in some states that don’t want to implement a program that may provide public funding to private schools.
However, DeVos says that is not what educational choice is about. In fact, much of the funding has come from philanthropy, including DeVo’s own foundation. However, there have been other big donors too, such as Bill Gates, Sam Walton, and Mark Zuckerberg. Philanthropy has given educational choice a chance to work in states like Florida and Louisiana.
Florida is one of the successes, according to DeVos, who has been working towards getting more choices for students. The educational choice program isn’t about getting public funding, but rather it’s about offering students a way out of failing school districts who have been failed by the standardized testing system and allowing kids to flourish in schools with a better curriculum.
Educational choice offers more than private school vouchers as well. In a recent interview with “60 Minutes,” Leslie Stahl asked DeVos about the programs and their successes. It’s hard to talk about success with just two years into the campaign and many states refusing to implement educational choice. She says that those states that do implement the programs are allowing students to get the proper education that they need now.
The confusion with educational choice comes down to where students can actually choose to go to school. It’s not all about private or charter schools. Students can also pick homeschooling, virtual schools, and magnet programs. In some states, they do get vouchers or scholarships to go to private schools. However, as DeVos points out, these have been backed by philanthropists and not public funding so far.
It’s difficult to say why people are so against educational choice. After all, it is a way to get kids into better schools right now instead of waiting to fix the issues with the public school system. Educational reform is not a new issue as it has been around since the 1980s when the Reagan administration revealed that most students were failing. Standardized testing has done little to improve the state of schools. In fact, over the past 30 years, there has only been a 20 percent improvement with students according to standardized tests, and students still do not measure up in reading comprehension and math skills.
DeVos will also be heading up the school safety movement as gun violence has become an issue in recent years. She will be meeting with policymakers to figure out a way to protect students going forward.
Visit http://www.betsydevos.com/ to learn more.