Betsy DeVos and the Educational Choice Movement

In West Michigan, the DeVos family is legendary for charitable giving and business sponsorship. They have worked with several businesses in Grand Rapids to build up the downtown area, and their contributions include some of the most popular entertainment sectors of downtown, including DeVos Place Convention Center and DeVos Performance Hall. While many have spoken out against Betsy DeVos, it’s been her unwavering belief that students should come first. This prevailing thought ahs allowed her to become more popular with students and parents.


Many teachers have spoken out against public funding for private choice, but DeVos says there is no need. That’s not how it works. Public funding doesn’t pay for private schools or charter schools. Philanthropy has been able to pave the way for those programs. Educational choice just provides options to students who would rather go to another school than the one where they are zoned.


Sometimes, students want to go to a different school because it’s a failing school zone according to standardized testing scores. Others want to go to a school with a curriculum that doesn’t include Common Core method. There are also private schools and technical schools that cater to students’ interests. These have become more popular in the past couple of years.


As DeVos has come up in education reform, many have challenged her on the basis of her experience. She has never been a teacher, but she says that she has always been around the educational community. After all, her mother was a teacher. She has dedicated her life to education reform instead, which is a much different pursuit than teaching. It involves working for the interests of students and putting those interests first.


She talked about this in a recent interview with “60 Minutes” and Lesley Stahl. While the interview brought up many topics related to the success of her fledgling programs, DeVos remained calm and talked about some of the successful programs in areas like Louisiana and Florida. In fact, Florida has one of the top educational choice programs.


The Sunshine State has the most options for students. You can pick between magnet schools, private schools, charter schools, virtual courses, and homeschooling programs. Students can also apply for a tuition-based scholarship program. While not every student will get into these programs, it allows students to have a second choice so that they are not stuck in a school zone that doesn’t excite them or may not have their interests in mind.


DeVos will continue to work with states in implementing new educational choice opportunities. She has been touring southern schools with the First Lady, bringing recognition to certain schools for their performance in the previous year. Her reforms have also included several new policies regarding guns on campus and student safety. These policies have so far worked in the new school year as there have been zero school shootings in the 2018-2019 school year.


For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.

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