Betsy DeVos, Innovative Public Education

Controversy over her nomination for Secretary of the United States Department of Education heightened as Betsy DeVos stumbled over basic questions regarding the nature of public education. She did not understand the role of the United States Department of Education from federal laws regarding free public education for special education students to the policing of for-profit colleges and universities. The federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been in effect since the 1970s. She portrayed herself as a “compassionate and eminently reasonable education leader … committed to empowering parents to put kids first.” Vice President Mike Pence cast the final vote to confirm her appointment.

 

Controversy

 

States and school districts often complain about the lack of federal funds for public education. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia asked Ms. DeVos if schools receiving federal funds have to comply with federal reporting requirements for students with disabilities. He also asked if private schools accepting tuition vouchers have to meet federal standards for students with disabilities. She replied, “That’s best left to the states.” When told reporting requirements are a federal law, she replied, “I look forward to reviewing that provision.”

 

Unconventional Private Schools

 

Shortly, after her confirmation as Secretary of Education, DeVos accepted an invitation from Armando Christian Pérez, aka Pitbull. Though his lyrics may contain profanity, rapper Pitbull created a South Florida charter school to give parents and students a choice in free public school education. While visiting Pitbull’s charter school in Florida, she also toured two colleges, a public school, and two South Florida private schools to show her commitment to alternative free public education.

 

Innovation

 

She also visited CARE Elementary in downtown Miami. The Christian Academy for Reaching Excellence offers organizations and individual taxpayers Florida tax credits and incentives to contribute money to the private school and tax credit scholarships to low-income students to allow them to attend the private school. Two problems this school faces are: violations of constitutional provisions for separation of church and state, and it offers no accountability for student achievement. Parents, children, and the business community benefit if this prototype school remains self-sustaining.

 

Funding

 

Florida charter schools garnered a record $760 million in state and federal funds which sparked controversy. Traditional public schools need funds to repair and rebuild deteriorated facilities. Also, $70 million in capital funds were paid to schools which later failed according to the Associated Press.

 

Florida’s SLAM charter schools focus on sports, leadership, and management for middle and high school students. SLAM is one of the largest associations of charter schools in the state of Florida with rapper Pitbull opening several of the schools. Learn more: http://www.betsydevos.com/policy-involvement/

 

Legislator of the Year

 

Erick Fresen, Miami’s Republican representative to Florida’s House of Representatives was named “Legislator of the Year” by the Florida Association of Post Secondary Schools and Colleges in 2013. Florida’s House of Representatives, conservative in nature, doesn’t hold private schools and universities accountable for the quality of their educational programs.

 

Quality Education

 

U. S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos holds states know what is best for their local schools and will hold states accountable for the quality of secondary and postsecondary education

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