Have you noticed that Betsy DeVos has been doing a lot of interviews lately? She doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything. The first female US Education Secretary has polarized America with her views on education reform, but it’s nothing new. Education reform in America has been a hot topic since the 1980s, which the Reagan Administration published a report on the poor state of public schools.
That trend has continued to now. Many public schools are failing, and even though Common Core and standardized testing has been shown to improve scores, most parents and students are still looking for other options. This is why educational choice has become such a hot topic as well.
DeVos said in a recent interview with “60 Minutes” and Leslie Stahl that she didn’t believe that standardized testing and Common Core Math were the answer to the problems that public curriculum is facing. In fact, she believes that it is an issue with teachers and training that has led to students becoming less and less interested in going to school. Many students are choosing to go with virtual schools and homeschooling, because they are allowed the freedom to learn subjects that they want to learn as well as the core skills that are required by state.
There are also many options with educational choice that are not discussed. Many focus on the private and charter school options, but students can also choose to go into a magnet program at another public school if they wish. Private and charter schools do require vouchers, which has been a contentious point for those who criticize DeVos. However, as she points out, many of the donors and support for these programs doesn’t come from public funding but from philanthropy. Her major supports include Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton.
However, the largest donor to the educational choice movement is the DeVos Family Foundation, which has donated considerably to the charter school movement. While DeVos says that it will still take time to see how these programs are successful, she points to Florida as the most successful state so far. The state has embraced educational choice completely, providing the most options for students. Florida also has a tuition-based scholarship program to support students who want to go to a private school.
Other states are following suit and adding more educational choice options, such as Louisiana and Georgia. DeVos wants to have more states join, but she is also facing other issues with school safety. Much of her focus has been switched over to protecting students and saving schools from gun violence. She has been working with legislators to change how school safety is approached and looking at other ways to protect students. As questions rise over whether teachers will hold guns, Betsy states that it is not the best option but that legislatures are looking at every angle.
Follow Betsy DeVos on twitter for updates.