Betsy DeVos and Nonexistent Fear

Have you seen the news concerning the new education reform bills? US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been working since her appointment in 2017 to bring more educational choice options to different states. However, since states control education legislature, DeVos has not been able to get legislation approved in every state. In an interview in 2018, she spoke about the issues with education reform in US and how she plans to handle it throughout the last leg of her term.


Betsy DeVos has always been interested in education reform. She got her degree in business economics at Calvin College in 1979, and at the same time, she worked on President Gerald Ford’s campaign. She was close to the Republican Party, and she fought hard for students’ rights in her own state of Michigan. However, even as the Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, it was difficult to get legislation passed for education reform. Her “Kids First! Coalition” bill was blocked in 2001.


Now that she is the leader of education reform as the US Education Secretary, she is continuing her campaign for education reform and educational choice. She recently toured schools in Florida and other states with the First Lady Melania Trump. Her message was simple. She wants to put students first and give them the best shot at education in America.


Despite the reports of testing scores going up in the United States, other statistical information shows the opposite. Test scores do not seem to reflect the state of education as a whole in the United States, which has been falling rapidly in the past few years. Currently, the United States ranks in the 65th percentile for education around the world. Many third world countries actually rank far higher.


So what is the issue?


Betsy DeVos points out that many administrations have had their own hand in creating these issues, but it started with the reliance on standardized testing and resources for schools. Without the proper grades, schools are forced to accept lower and lower resources based on their standardized testing scores. If students do not perform well that year, then it is guaranteed that the school will receive less funding. This cyclical problem has created many schools where students are not able to get ahead.


This has been the main reason for educational choice advocacy, which is what Betsy DeVos has wanted since taking office. She points out in an interview that Florida and Louisiana are the best states for educational choice. Students are able to pick where they want to go to school, and they don’t necessarily have to pay tuition in certain states. For example, Florida has a tuition-based scholarship program where students can get a percentage of their tuition paid.


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