Breaking Down Betsy DeVos' Ideas For US Schools

Trump's education secretary's plans for reforming U.S. education revolve around charter schools and vouchers.
Posted at 7:12 PM, Feb 08, 2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has big plans for U.S. education.

She told the Senate during her confirmation hearing, "Why, in 2017, are we still questioning parents' ability to exercise educational choice for their children?"

And they all revolve around her conservative vision of school choice.

In most of the U.S., where you go to school is determined by where you live — for better or for worse. There are private alternatives, but those often cost too much for many families to afford.

One solution?

Former President Ronald Reagan told students, "To allow your parents to support your education — either through tuition tax credits or through vouchers."

Programs like school vouchers and tax credits can redirect federal funds from public schools directly to families. That can help them afford more options.

The DeVos family is a big fan — they spent over $5.7 million on a failed 2000 initiative to allow school vouchers in their home state of Michigan.

DeVos also supports charter schools as an option to give parents more choices. These schools operate outside the public school system but get government funding if they meet certain government-mandated requirements.

The theory is that letting charter schools compete for pupils' tuition will reward stronger schools and eliminate failing ones.

But things can get more complicated in practice: The Detroit Free Press reports almost 40 percent of Michigan's charter schools rank in the bottom quarter of the state's schools, compared to 23 percent of public schools.