Education Chief Betsy DeVos: States’ Refusal of School Choice ‘Would Be a Terrible Mistake’

Betsy DeVos
AP/Andrew Harnik

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made clear Monday that while the decision to provide school choice belongs to the states, those who opt not to provide choices would be making “a terrible mistake.”

The secretary spoke in Indianapolis at the American Federation for Children’s (AFC) National Policy Summit, ahead of the release of the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget:

Let me be clear. I firmly believe every state should provide choices and embrace equal opportunity in education. But those are decisions states must make. No two states are the same and no two states’ approaches will be the same – and that’s a good thing. States are the best laboratories of our democracy.

If a state doesn’t want to participate, that would be a terrible mistake on their part. They will be hurting the children and families who can least afford it. If politicians in a state block education choice, it means those politicians do not support equal opportunity for all kids. They’ll be the ones who will have to explain to their constituent parents why they are denying their fundamental right to choose what type of education is best for their child.

DeVos is the former chairwoman of AFC, which promotes school vouchers and tax credit scholarships. As Politico reports, DeVos and her husband donated a total of $200,000 to AFC’s charity affiliate in 2014 and 2015 through their family foundation. DeVos stepped down as AFC chair last year after President Donald Trump nominated her for her current post.

In the FY2018 budget plan, the administration states regarding education reform, “We need to return decisions regarding education back to the State and local levels, while advancing opportunities for parents and students to choose, from all available options, the school that best fits their needs to learn and succeed.”

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