In 2016, Betsy DeVos became the US Secretary of Education, and one of the most talked about figures in American politics. She held opinions on America’s education that were not shared by everybody, and in fact, she turned out to be one of the most controversial figures appointed in the days after President Trump’s inauguration. However, she has always stood by her platform and believes that educational choice is the right direction for America’s education system.
She has traveled across the United States in support of educational choice, facing opposition from all directions in some cases. Some of her biggest opponents are those who work in the public school system. However, others see her new policies as a way out for kids who have been stuck in the system and haven’t been able to access educational resources due to where they lived.
In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, Betsy DeVos faced off against Leslie Stahl, who had some tough questions about her policies. She explained that educational choice isn’t about using public funding, since much of the funding has come from philanthropists like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates anyway. She says that educational choice is about the students and giving parents the options that they need to send their students to the right schools no matter where they are located.
DeVos has been working in educational reform for most of her life. She began her career at Calvin College, where she was an education activist, and she continued to work on her campaign throughout her days on Jimmy Carter’s campaign team as well as in her most recent “Kids First! Coalition” campaign in Michigan. All of these campaigns pointed towards supporting private education instead of public schools, a fact which many were not happy about.
However, that has not deterred Betsy DeVos, who says that she has seen progress in Florida and Louisiana, where charter schools and private schools have taken in new students previously zoned for failing schools. While it’s not the best option, it is the best way, DeVos believes, to affect greater change in the school system right now while also paying focus to the children who need a better education.
Educational choice also is not just about public funding for private schools. Students have a variety of options including magnet school programs, virtual schools, homeschooling, charter schools, and private schools. While vouchers are needed to attend some of these schools, much of the money has come from philanthropy. Florida has the largest educational choice program with the most options for students, including a tuition-based scholarship program.
Betsy DeVos will have to continue her campaigning for another year as many states are still not on board with her sweeping changes. She is also in charge of the new school safety movement as the government tries to find new ways to prevent school shootings and keep students safe.
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