While many have criticized the administration’s policies, Betsy DeVos had opponents even before she was appointed to the 11th Office of US Education Secretary. Why? For one, many educators believed that she had “radical” policies for a program called educational choice.
If you haven’t heard of private choice or educational choice before, these policies include options for students to go to schools other than where they are zoned. Simply put, if your student doesn’t like the school in your neighborhood, then they go to school somewhere else through educational choice. While these policies aren’t offered in all states, they are successful in states like Louisiana and Florida.
DeVos went on several interviews initially to clear up confusion about educational choice and offer students a new perspective on getting ahead in America’s system. While many schools are “taught to the test,” which is a standardized test that basically leads to more funding or less funding for public schools. If your school does well on the tests, then you may receive an uptick in resources. However, the issue is that failing schools never seem to get the resources to improve the situation, since test scores are consistently down. This creates a problematic loop for schools, particularly those in underprivileged, poor neighborhoods around the country.
Betsy DeVos has been a proponent for educational reform since the 1980s. However, she rose to fame with her policies on educational choice. She began her campaign in her home state of Michigan, where she proposed bills like “Kids First! Coalition.” These policies would have allowed students in Michigan to pick where they went to school, and it didn’t have to be a private school.
That’s one of the main issues that opponents leave out of the argument. Students don’t have to pick a private or charter school to participate with educational choice. They can pick a magnet program, which would allow them to attend a school with a special program, such as a business law or medical school prep.
In addition, states like Florida now have virtual school options that can replace failing schools for students who want to take on challenging courses and earn higher grades from home.
One of the other issues that DeVos had to face was school violence, particularly shootings on campuses. In 2018, she was appointed to lead the school safety reform and change policies regarding guns on campus. Now every school has a campus guardian, and there are new policies in place to help students and teachers stay safe.
DeVos has less than a year to implement educational choice policies in other states, but since education legislature is only approved at the state level, she has more work to do to get more states on board with her plans.
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