U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stirs up controversy with nearly every public appearance and speech, and many of those have been at schools around the country in recent weeks.
DeVos racked up several trips to schools in the Mountain West and Midwest during her “Rethink School” tour in the early phase of September. And she took a separate West Coast tour in September. Some of her critics charge that during school tours she focuses too much on private schools and gives public schools short shrift, as one Florida superintendent said recently.
As it happens, we’ve been tracking how often she visits for roughly the past nine months. So how often has she visited public and private schools since she became education secretary in February? Here’s your answer as of this week:
DeVos has visited 16 traditional public schools, seven charter schools, and nine private schools as secretary, by our count. We put her September visit to the St. Stephens Indian School in a separate category, since it is supported by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and thus doesn’t strictly follow the typical funding structure of traditional public schools. The graphic above is interactive—click the arrow on the right-hand side of the graphic to scroll through each of her school visits.
One way to characterize the makeup of her visits is that over two out of three of DeVos’ school site visits has been to public schools, a ratio that includes charters. (Some advocates for traditional public schools, of course, might not be keen to combine the two types of schools that way.) It’s also fair to point out that DeVos has responsibilities for overseeing public schools that she does not have when it comes to private schools.
In a Sept. 28 speech at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, DeVos denied that she was a foe of public schools merely because she advocated for K-12 choice. Her foes say the fact that she supports cuts to federal education spending says otherwise.
Going on the road hasn’t always been peaches and cream for DeVos, as my colleague Alyson Klein wrote about at length recently. Protestors have greeted her at several of her stops. Still, her ability to command attention at all is one of the best tools available to her, one observer told Alyson.
In the fall of 2015, an estimated 5.3 million students were enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools, according to an estimate by the National Center for Education Statistics. A year earlier, NCES reported U.S. public school enrollment to be 50.3 million students.
Have a question or comment about the tracker? Think we missed a school? Let us know in the comments section.