Betsy DeVos is one of the most polarizing figures in America’s fight for education. She has worked in education reform most of her life, starting with her work in student government in Calvin College, all the way up to the Office of the US Education Secretary. She was appointed in 2017 by President Trump to the prestigious office, where she now can affect policies on a massive scale. Her educational choice policies have caused critics to complain about public funding, but DeVos has always said that it’s not public funding that pays for educational choice.
Educational choice is an option for students to choose where they go to school. Critics have issues with this policy because it could mean that students pick private schools, which takes away funding from public schools. However, DeVos contends that it doesn’t work that way. In fact, she says that people who believe this don’t understand how educational choice works.
In a “60 Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl, DeVos discussed educational choice and the successes of the programs since she took office. She stated that the most successful state was Florida, where students have the most educational choice options. These programs make it possible for students in a failing district to choose a magnet program, which would allow them to transfer to another public school with a program that they liked better. This works for students who want to go into performing arts, international studies, business, law, and other specialty programs.
However, educational choice is also about sending students to better schools. If a student is accepted into a private school or charter school, they can attend that school with a scholarship. These programs are funded by philanthropy. In fact, Betsy DeVos’ own foundation has donated over $139 million to help education in the United States. She also has donors like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton.
In addition, DeVos has been in charge of school safety reform. In 2018, after multiple school shootings, DeVos was put in charge of the reform movement. It would lead to multiple policy changes and new safety measures at schools around the country. Changes took place in summer of 2018 before the start of the new year.
Since those changes, there have been zero school shootings and Betsy DeVos says that it’s all about protecting children. She wants to put students first always. President Trump has put her in charge of the school safety movement, while she has also been trying to get more states on board with educational choice. She still has time to make more changes, but it has been slow trying to get other states to adopt educational choice programs.
Betsy DeVos says that she will continue to fight for students’ rights first and hopes that campuses are now the safe space that children need to learn.
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