Betsy Devos: the US Education Secretary

Most people don’t realize this but Betsy Devos, the 11th Education Secretary, has made some significant progress in her campaign for educational choice. While there are still many states that are not partaking in the new programs, she has seen considerable success in states like Florida and Louisiana. These states have adopted the most educational choice programs, particularly in Florida. Devos spoke about the educational choice programs as well as school safety in a “60 Minutes” interview with Leslie Stahl.


Devos has had a rough time since her appointment in 2016. There were not many in the education world who understood her ideas, and she was challenged frequently when she spoke out at high schools and private schools around the country. While she has been very adamant that people who are against educational choice just don’t understand, it’s also been clear that many in the state legislature do not want educational choice.


Why is this the case?


Devos spoke about it in the interview, stating that many people don’t understand how it works and they don’t realize the amount of philanthropy that has supported the movement. In fact, educational choice is supported by donations from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sam Walton, and Devos’ Family Foundation. For instance, Florida has its own tuition program that helps students pay for courses at private schools if they are accepted into the program.


Devos doesn’t have much to say about standardized testing and Common Core Math, which has been increasingly problematic for schools to add to the curriculum due to the lack of knowledge around it by parents. Common Core Math has put a strain on America’s education system, but it’s up to education choice to bring students to the schools that they want to go.


With educational choice, students can go into a magnet program at another school, try homeschooling, attend virtual schools, and go to charter schools or private schools. It’s areas like Florida that have the most options with a tuition-based scholarship program that has been funded by philanthropy.


Devos wants to make it clear that funding for educational choice is not paid by taxes but by philanthropy.


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