Betsy DeVos’ Big Idea: Funding Students Instead of Systems for School Choice


Big idea There is a series that asks top lawmakers and figures to discuss their moon – what is a proposal, if politics and elections and even the price tag were not an issue, they would be better off for the country. Will apply to change?

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a longtime champion for school choice, but the school-closing coronovirus epidemic around the country kept her vision to give students more education options to pay more attention to.

“This period of time with the epidemic is really helping to encourage a lot of new thinking about the way we’ve always done things,” DeVos said in an interview to Fox News.

As DeVos and the Trump administration insisted that the decline come back again for in-person instruction in schools, it said it supported school choice funding for relief from the epidemic.

The $ 300 billion Senate Republican Coronavirus relief proposal included several school choice efforts, including a $ 5 billion federal education tax credit annually to help students attend private schools.

The law was passed, private schools may have been spared on the verge of closure and parents would have reached out to financial aid to teach parents in school.

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos prefers schools nationwide where students can use public funds to attend private schools.  (File photo: May 22, 2018. REUTERS / Leah Millis)

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos prefers schools nationwide where students can use public funds to attend private schools. (File photo: May 22, 2018. REUTERS / Leah Millis)

“This COVID crisis has bare the fact that families with means are always going to find a solution because they have the financial resources they need,” DeVos said. “Those without – those are the children who are going to be the most hurt. And we need to make sure that those parents have the options and the opportunity to make those choices.”

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DeVos reconsidered his overall vision for school choice in the US and government funding for education in an interview with Fox News.

Q: What’s your big idea?

Davos: The big idea would be that everything about education from the youngest until you don’t need or want to learn anything is entirely focused on the student. And it is really student-led and student-directed.

This is a very different reality from what we have today. But I think it will be healthy for our country and it will be healthy for every person, every student.

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Q: If the education system was reformed to be student-driven and widely preferred by the school, how do you think it would benefit the students?

Davos: First, it will allow students to pursue things that are particularly interesting to them, things they are passionate about and also explore new topics or new ideas. Instead, what we have now is a one-size-fits-all approach for many students. And if you don’t fit in that box, you get bored very quickly or you work outside or you check mentally.

You need look no further than our continued results on tests for the rest of the world. America remains steadfast in terms of our level of achievement. Or view our NAEP scores. The Department of Education stood with the stated goal of closing the achievement gap 40 years ago. The achievement gap has not closed a bit. In fact, they have opened up more by some measures. And yet, we have spent more than a trillion dollars at the federal level alone to try to shut it down. So instead of having a one-size-fits-all approach, let’s step back and do things really differently.

Question: From the state / local level, to a whole school choice world, with the funding of education on a large scale, would you be funding both federal and state / local funds for students rather than institutions?

Davos: Absolutely. I like to imagine children with their backpacks wherever they have their education. And they carry those resources – the money that is invested in them – into the backpack that works for them. Today families across America are more aware than ever of what their schools are doing or not doing and what their children are learning or not learning. And so we are seeing a lot of creativity. We are seeing a lot more home school associations, learning pods with other families, helping to hire tutors or teachers. Let’s help add fuel to that fire and allow this creativity to be more and more sure that families have the money, the resources to be able to do it and be able to make those choices for each of their children .

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Q: Under this school-choice model, how much money is there in each backpack that children should put?

Davos: Only 8% of K-12 funds come from the federal government. And the bulk of the funding for K-12 education comes from the states. We know that we spend about $ 12,500 per student per year. It varies greatly between places. But for parents to imagine the best solution for their child, essentially imagine part of that backpack. And I think anyone can quickly imagine how soon we can create a very strong menu of opportunities and options for parents and children.

Question: At the federal level, how do you want to change that funding stream so that it is student-driven versus institution-driven?

Davos: Congress is considering additional coronavirus relief packages. And just last week, 52 Republican members of the Senate voted to advance coronovirus legislation that includes an important school choice piece. (The measure failed because no Democrats joined the GOP to require 60 votes). This included immediate funding for children who are in schools at risk of closure – mostly small faith-based schools that are at risk of closure due to economic impact. And for the long term, it had the establishment of federal tax credits that would come with the efforts of states or encourage states to actually adopt some school choice measures. (The provisions were adopted from the School Choice Now Act). Sen. Tim Scott, RSC, introduced the school-choice bill in the Senate and a companion bill has been introduced in the House with bipartisan support. This law will actually help prime the pump in a major way for families able to exercise these options.

Sen. Tim Scott, RSC, right, Ky's left, along with St. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen., John Cornyn, R-Texas, center, and others speak at a news conference to announce a Republican police cop bill.  Capitol Hill in Washington, on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.  (AP Photo / Andrew Harnick)

Sen. Tim Scott, RSC, right, Ky’s left, with Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen., John Cornyn, R-Texas, center, and others speak at a news conference to announce a Republican police cop bill. Capitol Hill in Washington, on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnick)

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Q: In terms of accomplishing this, what do you think are your biggest hurdles in implementing school choice?

Davos: The biggest obstacle is the Teachers Association which has continued to defend the status quo. They focus a lot on adult issues and adult jobs, not on what is best for the students. And they stand in the way of progress and apply political pressure at the expense of children. It is always the children who are the weakest who bear the brunt of it. And so they remain the biggest obstacle to the kind of reforms that we need to embrace.

Question: One of the criticisms is that these school choice provisions hurt public schools, which educate all students and serve as an important community institution. How do you respond?

Davos: The assumption that the only type of school that serves the community and serves the wider population is government in this sense. And I think it’s a downfall.

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But I would also say that in states where we have a lot of options, such as Florida, all that has happened is that traditional public schools continue to improve … the choice school-going child does better and the traditional in-person school address It suggests that they will not make decisions that they would not have made before making changes because they now have something to benchmark against themselves. And so everyone ultimately benefits, especially children. We see this in every other area of ​​life where there is competition. Everything eventually gets better because you have comparisons. You have a benchmark against someone or something else.

Question: The Senate Coronavirus law that included a federal tax credit of $ 5 billion for school choice was also criticized by the teachers union as a benefit to the wealthy. Your answer?

Davos: What they like to do is roughly and actually lie about such issues. The tax credit will be a credit for voluntary contributions made by individuals or businesses to the scholarship fund. The states that chose to participate would then give grants to families. And most of these programs in states that have already adopted them are means-tested. And so they are targeted to benefit lower-middle-middle-income families. And so it is a complete fallacy to say that whoever is rich will benefit. No, it would be a decision on the part of anyone who pays federal tax to redirect a small portion of that to the scholarship fund to benefit other people’s children.

Middle school teacher Brittany Myers (center) stands in protest on July 16, 2020 in front of the District Office of Hillsborough County Schools, in Tampa, Fla.  Teachers and administrators of Hillsborough County Schools rallied against the reopening of schools due to health and safety concerns.  COVID-19 among epidemics.  (Octavio Jones / Getty Image)

Middle school teacher Brittany Myers (center) stands in protest on July 16, 2020 in front of the District Office of Hillsborough County Schools, in Tampa, Fla. Teachers and administrators of Hillsborough County Schools rallied against the reopening of schools due to health and safety concerns. COVID-19 among epidemics. (Octavio Jones / Getty Image)

Q: If schools were a complete choice for students, how do you think five or 10 years would look like? Will you have more private institutions? Will you have fewer public schools or will you have more home schooling? What does this new view of American education look like?

Davos: I think it’s almost impossible to say what it will look like five or 10 years from now. But I think we can feel somewhat like this by looking at the state of Florida, where for more than 20 years now they have been continuously investing in choice and education options for the families there. And what we are seeing are a variety of approaches to education, to schooling. We are seeing better results for children across the board.

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We can implement this provision at the federal level, but to encourage bold steps on the part of state legislatures and governors to continue by states to really ensure that different states offer those kinds of opportunities. Have started doing This period of time, which has encouraged more families to think more creatively than necessary, will actually help foster those kinds of creative approaches more, whether it is home school or these small micro-schools, Learning pods or other types of mobility. Families come to the fore who are really going to connect their children in new and meaningful ways.

This Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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