Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to Address Jeb Bush’s Foundation Summit

Betsy DeVos and Jeb Bush collage
Associated Press

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will address former GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) when it celebrates its 10th annual summit.

The summit will take place November 29-December 1 in Nashville, Tennessee.

DeVos and Bush are old friends since DeVos was both a donor and a board member of Bush’s foundation prior to being confirmed to her current post.

Common Core advocate Bush championed DeVos’s nomination as federal education secretary with the Trump administration within days of Donald Trump’s election victory. Bush asked DeVos if she would be interested in the top federal education post and then asked Vice President-elect Mike Pence to recommend her for the job.

“He was really the only person I knew in the transition,” Bush told Tim Alberta, writing for Politico magazine. “He was the best person, because he was running it.”

Bush added that it turned out that both he and Pence – two former GOP governors – had the same thought since both had worked with DeVos to advance their education agendas in their home states of Florida and Indiana, respectively.

“He made it clear that he was already thinking about Betsy, too,” Bush said of Pence.

Once Trump formally nominated DeVos, Bush announced publicly he was “excited.”

The foundation will feature a session titled “Real Faces of Education Choice.” DeVos has been an ardent advocate of school choice and charter schools.

In announcing DeVos’s address at the summit, Bush’s foundation described the secretary as an “advocate for children and a voice for parents.”

“As secretary, DeVos continues to advocate for returning control of education to states and localities, giving parents greater power to choose the educational settings that are best for their children, and ensuring that higher education puts students on the path to successful careers,” the announcement continued.

In the new federal budget, DeVos’s department had requested an additional $1.4 billion into school choice programs by increasing funding for charter schools by $168 million, instituting a new $250 million private school voucher program, and boosting the Title I program by $1 billion for states and school districts that allow students to use the funding at the public school of their choice, Breitbart News reported.

The House, however, did not include DeVos’s requests in its budget. According to her interview with Politico, DeVos said, “Well, let’s keep in mind that this is only the first budget cycle. There are other budget cycles.”

Bush’s foundation’s summit is convening in a state that has consistently rejected school vouchers to enable students in low-performing public schools to attend school elsewhere, reports Chalkbeat:

Even as money has increasingly flowed into Tennessee to promote vouchers and voucher candidates, including cash from DeVos’s American Federation for Children, the proposal to provide students with state-funded tuition to attend private schools failed again this year to clear the state’s House of Representatives. (The Senate has passed the legislation three times. Lawmakers will take up the matter again in January.)

Sponsors of the Bush foundation summit include the College Board, whose president is Common Core “architect” David Coleman; the Walton Family Foundation; ExxonMobil; textbook publishers Pearson and McGraw Hill; digital learning corporation Amplify; Charter Schools USA; and State Farm.


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