If appointed, Betsy DeVos’ views likely to affect public, private schools

Published 5:52 pm Thursday, February 2, 2017

LaGRANGE- Since President Donald Trump named Betsy DeVos as his new education secretary, the decision has not set well with numerous school board members in public school systems across the United States.

In fact, news reports Thursday afternoon say she could be voted down by the U.S. Senate.

DeVos, a Michigan native and advocate of voucher programs, is known for helping adjust the education system in countless states by spending millions of dollars to push to expand voucher programs that will give families taxpayer dollars to pay for religious and private schools, rather than enrolling in public school.

A voucher program allows parents to use funds to pay for some or all of their children’s private school tuition. Most vouchers are created and distributed by state governments. The funding is usually for a particular year, term or semester and in some counties, states or local jurisdictions, the voucher can be used to reimburse home schooling expenses. In some counties, vouchers only exist for tuition at private schools.

The biggest concern from teacher unions and education advocates in the public education system is that her views will be a threat and harm public schools and their financial stability, officials say.

In a statement from the Troup County’s Board of Education, members weighed in on the challenges they are soon to face regarding Betsy DeVos’ outlook on public and private schools, should she pass the Senate vote.

“Betsy DeVos’ possible approval as education secretary is widely reported. We are aware of her staunch voucher and charter school stance, but we are also aware that the needs facing our students in Troup County are unique. We are prepared to help them succeed,” the statement said.

After nominating DeVos, then-President-elect Donald Trump expressed his intention to aid “school choice” – including vouchers and charter schools – in an effort to break up a public education system that he has called “a government-run monopoly.”

With DeVos leading the charge, Trump’s plan to create a national voucher program using $20 billion in federal funds is in play. Trump’s plan would give poor students $12,000 each toward school tuition to be distributed to the school of their family’s choosing, whether it is a public, private, charter or religious school, officials say.

Referring to the Department of Education, Trump said that he planned to “shrink the Department of Education or demolish it altogether” and pledged to be “the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice.”

Though the plan will likely affect public and private schools in the future, the Troup County School System is keeping a positive outlook.

“Our mission states we will ‘educate all students in a challenging and safe learning environment, so they will become productive citizens in a diverse and changing world,’” the statement concluded. “While we see the many changes taking place globally, we will continue advocating for public education locally.”


Shirttail- Reach James Simpson II at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155, or by email at james.simpson@lagrangenews.com