On February 7, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Education. The confirmation came as a result of a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence after weeks of protests and delays from both sides of the aisle in Congress. Now, as Secretary of Education, DeVos will help President Trump shape policy, programs and activities related to education in the U.S. Formerly, DeVos was the Chairman for The Windquest Group, a Michigan-based investment management firm that specializes in technology, manufacturing, clean-tech, hospitality and nonprofit solutions. In addition to her work in the private sector, DeVos has been active in the political community for over 35 years. During her time serving in the political community, DeVos was elected as Chairman to the Michigan Republican Party four times as well as served in leadership roles on various campaigns, party organizations and political action committees. Additionally, she has served on numerous education reform boards, most notably the American Federation for Children. Most of her work in education reform has involved advocacy for school choice through school voucher programs.Voucher programs are typically funded by the government and provide low-income students with school choice options. Rather than attending public school, these students can elect to attend private institutions. Essentially, voucher programs give students, regardless of socioeconomic status, the ability to choose which school they attend. It is likely that DeVos will continue her advocacy of school choice as Secretary of Education, and President Trump is on board. U.S. News reports that, during the campaign, “Trump called for a $20 billion block grant program that would be devoted to poor students and doled out by individual states, with the funding following students should they change schools.”Opponents to voucher programs believe that state and federal dollars that would otherwise go to public schools will be used to fund school choice. Along similar lines, challengers to DeVos believe that she has too little public school experience to make decisions for the entire educational system. In the next few weeks, DeVos will likely make her agenda more clear. In the meantime and throughout her tenure as Secretary of Education, you can stay informed of all major and minor policy changes at the U.S. Department of Education’s website, https://www.ed.gov/, in addition to Fastweb.
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