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Betsy DeVos: Federal Progress on School Choice Coming Soon

By Alyson Klein — May 09, 2017 1 min read
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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said the Trump administration and Congress will move forward on their vision for school choice “in the not-too-distant future.”

It’s no secret that expanding school choice is the Trump administration’s favorite K-12 policy. But the administration has yet to release a detailed proposal explaining how it plans to make that a reality. The best clues are in the administration’s preliminary budget request, which was released in March and calls for ramping up charter school funding, allowing some federal funding to encourage public school choice, and a new private school choice initiative. But the request doesn’t offer many specifics.

DeVos didn’t get into the details during a press availability on Tuesday at the Granite Technical Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, captured on Periscope by the Salt Lake Tribune’s Benjamin Wood.

One reporter brought up Utah voters’ rejection of vouchers at the ballot box. DeVos said that she thinks states should ultimately get to decide if they want to do school choice, but she sees energy for the policy growing.

“I think it has to be up to the states what and whether to adopt in terms of choices. I’m very much a federalist in that regard,” DeVos said. “I think the momentum around this has continued to build. And more and more people are supporting this notion that everyone should have the opportunity to make multiple choices.”

Another reporter asked what DeVos’ plans are for helping to revamp struggling traditional public schools. DeVos quickly pivoted back to choice.

“We’ve attempted [fixing public schools] for many decades,” she said. While she acknowledged that the feds and the state have seen some success, “There are still far too many kids being left behind. Many states have also tried to improve their traditional public education systems. ... The reality is that there are still far too many kids being left behind. Every year that we fail to give parents the kinds of choices they need for their individual children is a tragic year for [each child] that is denied that opportunity.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos addresses Education Department staff, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, at the Education Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)