Since 2017, Betsy DeVos has been working on education reform in America. While it has been an uphill battle due to criticisms from teachers and the public education community, DeVos continues to campaign for more educational choice options. Her platform comes from decades of experience working with students and private schools in Michigan, where she was the Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.
DeVos has always believed in putting the student first. She has said this in many interviews, and recently, she was asked about her policies in a “60 Minutes” interview with Leslie Stahl. When it was brought up that her policies may not be successful, she talked about the success in Florida and Louisiana. Both of these states are known for their educational choice legislation, which has allowed students to choose where they go to school.
In the past, she has been criticized for the program’s secretive funding. Where does it come from? Many believe that it comes from public school funding and worry that taxpayer dollars are going to fund private education. DeVos has said that isn’t the case and points to philanthropy as the solution.
Philanthropy has been at the center of DeVos’ work for many years. The DeVos Family Foundation has given over $139 million to different causes, and about $35 million of that has gone to education. DeVos also has big donors from the tech and retail industry, including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Bill Gates of Microsoft.
Educational choice is often condemned simply before people even realize what the program is. The choice aspect means that students don’t have to go to a school in their own zip code, which has been limiting for underprivileged children who get stuck with a failing school simply because of their residence. That isn’t the case with educational choice.
Students in Florida have the best options. In fact, Florida is known for having the most educational choice schools. Students can pick between magnet programs at other public schools, or they can choose a private school or charter school. Virtual schools and homeschooling are also on the list of schools that these students can pick. For parents, it’s been beneficial getting students into better schools when they had no other options.
DeVos has a little under a year to work with other states and get them on board with educational choice reform. However, many state leaders do not want more legislation for charter schools and private schools. Instead, they are focused on school safety reform. DeVos has been leading the way in that as well, making sure that campuses are safe across the country after many school shootings shocked Americans in 2018.
By 2020, DeVos hopes that all states will have some educational choice programs to offset the problems with failing schools and get around some of the previous administration’s policies that have caused issues, such as common core method and “No Child Left Behind.”
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