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Betsy DeVos Launches Six-State ‘Rethinking School’ Tour

By Alyson Klein — September 11, 2017 2 min read
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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will be spending her week doing a six-state back-to-school blitz to highlight what the agency calls “innovative educational settings” that are “fundamentally rethinking school.”

She’ll be kicking off her trip in Wyoming, and swinging by Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana. No word from the Education Department on exactly which cities, towns, and schools she’ll be stopping at for most of the trip. But on Tuesday, DeVos plans to visit two schools in Wyoming: the Woods Learning Center, a public elementary school in Casper, and St. Stephens Indian High School, a school on the Wind River reservation.

“There are so many new and exciting ways state-based education leaders and advocates are truly rethinking education,” DeVos said in a statement. “It is our goal with this tour to highlight what’s working. We want to encourage local education leaders to continue to be creative, to empower parents with options, and to expand student-centered education opportunities.”

That overall theme seems to jive with DeVos’ pitch for a greater range of educational options for kids, including expanding access to private school vouchers and charter schools. So far, she’s had a tough time persuading Congress to provide the resources for that vision.

Some regional newspapers already have written about the prospect of a DeVos visit. And the local reaction has been pretty mixed.

For instance, DeVos is expected to swing by Omaha, Neb., the Omaha World-Herald reported exclusively late last month. And Bridget Donovan, president of the Omaha Education Association, isn’t exactly thrilled to see her.

“We’re not very happy about it,” she told the paper, “but we’re Nebraska nice.”

The Republican governor, Pete Ricketts was more enthusiastic. His spokesman said DeVos, “has been a great advocate for expanding educational opportunities.”

DeVos could visit a private school, Nelson Mandela Elementary School in north Omaha, and Bryan High, a public school, according to the World-Herald.

Both of President Barack Obama’s education secretaries—Arne Duncan and John B. King Jr.—did their own back-to-school bus tours. It’s not clear if DeVos’ trip will be all by bus, or more planes, trains, and automobiles.

But we’ll be on the look-out for coverage from the trip. If DeVos is heading to your area, tweet at us at PoliticsK12.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos talks with pre-k students Alivia, 5, and Kellen, 5, while visiting teacher Laura Foster’s class at the Van Wert Early Childhood Center on April 20, in Van Wert, Ohio.

--Cathie Rowand/The Journal-Gazette via AP

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