Betsy DeVos was confirmed Tuesday to be the Secretary of Education by the U.S. Senate. The newest cabinet member is a billionaire donor to conservative causes. In Michigan, DeVos was a proponent of vouchers for school choice, allowing students to use taxpayer dollars to fund tuition at private, for-profit and religious schools.
Nancy Gregory, Board Chair of the Boise School District, says she was “disheartened at the confirmation.”
“We have lots of school choice within the walls of public education,” Gregory says. “Charter schools are public education; they are part of the public school education in the state of Idaho. Within our district, we have many layers of school choice.”
Gregory pointed to Montessori, dual-language and career-technical programs in the Boise School District.
“So we have choice. We do not need to dismantle the public education system to create choice.”
In the confirmation process for DeVos, the Senate was deadlocked in a tie 50-50, requiring Vice President Mike Pence to cast the winning vote. Two Republicans broke from party ranks to vote against DeVos. Gregory was hoping for a different outcome.
“That’s really appalling that the party that puts forth how important local control is would put in somebody who has an agenda that would change things outside of the purview of local school boards,” says Gregory.
90 percent of the country’s students are enrolled in public schools.
Republicans described DeVos as being in-step with campaign promises made by President Trump on education.
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