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Is Betsy DeVos Leading the Education Reform Revolution?

Betsy DeVos was appointed by President Trump to the 11th Office of US Education in 2017. After she was appointed, DeVos received a lot of criticism for her policies on educational choice. In addition, her experience was criticized. She had never been a teacher, and yet she was holding the highest office in education. While these issues followed her around, she continued to go on interviews and talk about the ways in which educational choice was beneficial to students.


One question remained: does educational choice promote public funding for private schools?


DeVos pointed out in her “60 Minutes” interview in 2018 that this isn’t the case. In fact, public funding isn’t used for private schools at all. Philanthropy has paved the way for educational choice to be successful in the US. There are a few states where it has been more successful, including Florida and Louisiana.


In Michigan, the state’s Congress didn’t want to implement educational choice. Betsy DeVos started the program under the “Kids First! Coalition,” but it wasn’t approved in the early 2000s. Now, as US Education Secretary, DeVos has been working with many states to bring in new educational choice opportunities. However, the most successful implementation has been in Florida and Louisiana.


In Florida, there are a variety of educational choice programs. It’s considered to be the state with the most options for students, including virtual schools, homeschooling programs, and magnet schools. Most schools have a magnet program. Students can now choose to go to a school with a different program as long as they qualify.


Educational choice is still mainly about charter schools and private schools. However, who pays for the vouchers for tuition at these schools? DeVos has said that philanthropy has helped the programs for the past few decades. In addition, DeVos has allocated millions of dollars of her own money to help these programs.


In Florida, students have access to a tuition-based scholarship fund that will pay for their schooling. It’s clear that students have been able to benefit from these programs. This means that students are able to go to any school that they want, and if they are located in a failing school zone, they are able to get out of failing school districts. This allows them to explore a curriculum that truly suits their interests.


Betsy DeVos has never shied away from an interview on the subject. She has talked about the issues facing students today, and she has also said that students are her first priority. She has made it a point to bring in First Lady Melania Trump on the issue. The pair toured schools in Florida in early 2019 in order to show how educational choice is beneficial to students.


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