Betsy DeVos is one of the most polarizing figures in America’s education reform history. While the issue of education reform started in the 1980s with the Reagan administration, it’s been a longstanding conversation. What do we do about America’s schools and failing students? While many rely on standardized testing and Common Core methods, DeVos is doing something about failing educational systems that is controversial. She is taking children out of the public school system and allowing them to choose a school instead.
Parents have praised DeVos’ efforts. Children are now able to go to a private or charter school, as well as virtual school or magnet program, instead of going to their zoned school. In most cases, the school where the student lives is a failing school, or one that did not get the right standardized test scores. While it’s apparent that not every student deserves to go to a failing school simply because they live in that zip code, that doesn’t prevent thousands of students from showing up to a school that is simply not adequate.
While students may not want to attend these schools, it’s even worse for teachers who have to deal with students who don’t want to learn and diminishing resources. DeVos understands the problem, but in her mind, she is focusing on students first. By putting students first, she has started a campaign for educational choice, which is backed by philanthropy. Donors come from all over, including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, as well as her own foundation. The philanthropy has helped build charter schools, fund scholarships, and give back to students who want to go to private school.
Opponents of Betsy DeVos state that she will eventually use these funds to use tax dollars for private schools, but DeVos says that isn’t the case. It doesn’t work that way, she said recently in an interview with Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes.” The interview was telling as it showed DeVos talking about the recent success of Florida as an educational choice state. Since education laws and policies are up to each state, Florida and Louisiana are currently the top states for educational choice. However, DeVos hopes to add more states to her roster for educational choice by the time her term is complete.
In addition to educational choice and reform, she has taken on school safety as well. Recently, new policies were put into place to make campuses safer for children in US.
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