Betsy DeVos: the Education Reformer
Many people don’t believe that Betsy DeVos has been in education reform for as long as she has. From her perspective, none of this is new territory. She has been working around the Republican Party and education in Michigan since the 1990s. However, many of the policies that she wanted to implement in Michigan were not passed including the Kids First! Coalition bill. This bill would have helped students get more control over where they go to school, especially if they lived in a failing school district.
DeVos is a polarizing figure who has taken on opponents at schools all across the nation as she campaigns for educational choice. While many do not realize what this is, DeVos says that it is a way to put students first and that it is largely misunderstood by opponents. For one, DeVos says that students should be put first when it comes to where they get their education. She doesn’t believe that students should be forced to go to a school simply because of their zip code either.
Educational choice is about giving back the power to choose. Students can now choose to go into magnet programs, private schools, charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling programs. Florida has the most opportunities, as it also has a tuition-based scholarship for those who apply and are accepted.
DeVos has been working on getting more states to get on board with educational choice. However, so far it’s just been Louisiana. While more educational choice options are popping up, few states are choosing to go with educational choice. While those who say that it would lead to public funding for private schools, DeVos has said that funding comes from philanthropy. Her donors include Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton, as well as her own foundation.
In addition to working on educational choice reform, DeVos has also been appointed to lead the school safety reform movement. While DeVos doesn’t seem to oppose all gun use, she doesn’t want to add more guns to school campuses. Instead, she wants students to feel safe and have the right plan going forward for evacuation. Summer 2018 led to policy changes across a lot of schools due to the new security and gun detection in schools legislation.
DeVos has two more years to start enacting these programs to help students in other states.
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