Education Secretary Betsy Devos has repeatedly trumpeted the concept of “school choice.” The word “choice” sounds positive and leaves the impression that parents and students need a wider variety of options when it comes to education. However, school choice, as it is purported by DeVos and other, far-right organizations, will actually be detrimental to schools and students throughout the country.
The proposal would allow taxpayer dollars – public funds – to be siphoned into private school organizations, most of which are not subject to the same accountability standards as public schools. By creating a marketplace of sorts, the proposal turns kids into commodities and hurts instructional opportunities in poorer neighborhoods by reducing badly needed funding in their schools. In fact, “school choice” would benefit only the wealthiest of parents who can already afford to provide private school tuition for their children. Possibly most detrimental, it would re-segregate schools.
What DeVos fails to point out is that choices are actually plentiful for our nation’s students. From athletics to fine arts to programs of study that lead to a career path, students and parents have numerous instructional options. Moreover, by law, public schools admit every student without regard to race, religion, health or any other personal background. Private institutions can accept or reject students at will. While many private schools provide exceptional education, they should be paid for out a parent’s pocketbook rather than the taxpayers’.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and President Trump haven’t been on the same page lately when speaking on higher education. While DeVos calls the higher education system a failure, President Trump calls it the the best in the world.
On public school education, the two appear to remain of the same opinion as last year. “American carnage” was the term President Trump used to describe K-12 public school education in his 2017 inauguration speech. Prior to her own calling as U.S. Education Secretary, DeVos referred to a public school education as a “dead end.”
Perhaps DeVos’s confirmation hearing in January could’ve been an indicator that lower education wasn’t her only area of disapproval. She continued to vigorously support her efforts of steering taxpayer dollars away from traditional systems, saying that it was time to move towed a newer model from the one-size-fits-all approach taken by traditional preschool to college education systems.
During the most recent U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, DeVos recalled a conversation she had with the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. He had asked her: “Why hasn’t America’s higher ed bubble burst?” She went on to describe in her address how the ambassador couldn’t understand why U.S. business would rely on education systems verses simply creating their own internal programs to equip a workforce with all the knowledge and skills needed for the jobs.
She also noted that educators and businesses often work side-by-side on the higher education curriculum in other parts of the world to ensure workers are being taught meaningful, useful skills.
On the other hand, President Trump delivered a much different message than DeVos the following day at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. He touted America as having the best higher education system and workforce in the world, and he urged other countries to invest in America.
Funding was slashed for higher education in the administration’s first education budget proposal. Congress is currently examining federal laws as they apply to higher education. One particular element of higher education Congress is looking to rewrite is in potentially decreasing federal aid. They’re also considering who qualifies and how and to whom the funds should be allotted.
The state of Michigan submitted an education plan to the U.S Department of Education in April as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Since then, the state education officials have had their fingers crossed as they awaited the verdict of the Department of Education. Betsy Devos, the serving U.S Secretary of Education, announced on Tuesday that the Michigan’s plan had met all the statutory requirements, and she had approved it.
Getting the plan approved was no mean task for the state education officials. The Department of Education returned the first draft of the plan instructing the state education officials to revise it. The department had issues with five parts of the plan. The officials had until October 25, to finetune the plan and resubmit it. On November 15, a final copy of the education plan was resubmitted. While announcing that the plan had been accepted, Devos emphasized that the education plan should be used as a basis to build, strengthen, and expand the education sector and should not be treated as an achievement.
Brian Whiston announced on Tuesday night that the department had received the final approval of the plan. Whiston expressed his gratitude to the U.S Department of Education for working with the state officials towards getting the plan approved. Also, he recognized the invaluable input of other stakeholders.
The state leadership namely Gov. Rick Snyder and his lieutenant, Gov Brian Calley, had distanced themselves from some aspects of the plan. For example, Calley did not approve the metrics for special education students.