The United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has long been a fierce advocate for education. And now, as parents struggle with the decision to send their children back to school, DeVos said there hasn’t been more of a time that school choice is needed.
As state and local governments continue to deal with the coronavirus, there has been increased pressure on schools choosing to reopen and how they choose to do so. In an interview with Fox News, DeVos said that parents want their kids to be back in school and to learn in-person, but they have to do what is right for the child and the family. DeVos said, “We know more than ever parents want and need to have choices and options for how that works and how that looks depending on their children. We know there’s no perfect option, but there lots of good options, and I’ve had the chance to visit a number of schools and districts where they’ve been really leaning into this and really addressing the problems and the issues and providing choices and options for families.”
DeVos said that while it depends on the “geography,” meaning if the school is in an outbreak hotspot, it is “an imperative that kids be able to get back to school and learn.” While states like New York and California chose to push back schools reopening because of the coronavirus outbreak, DeVos said that learning in person is crucial for a child’s education.
DeVos said that giving parents options to do “what is best for their particular children” is more important now than ever before. While many students are learning through the Internet, there are a lot of families who do not have the resources for online learning. DeVos said the Department of Education is working to provide flexibility and support from the CARES Act, and that the funds that haven’t been spent should be used for technology, testing, teacher development, and cleaning supplies.
In a poll taken by 2,020 individuals, RealClear Opinion Research asked: “On average, American taxpayers spend $15,424 per student nationwide on K-12 education. Would you support or oppose giving parents a option of those funds to use for home, virtual, or private education if public schools do not reopen for in-person classes?” The poll found that 73% were in favor, including 72% identifying as Democrat, 76% as Republican, and 73% as Independent.
Another question asked individuals: “School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their needs. Generally speaking, would you say you support of oppose the concept of school choice?” This poll found 69% approved of school choice, with 63% identifying as Democrat, 79% as Republican, and 67% as Independent.
Why this matters: Many Republicans have been fiercely in favor of school choice, but have failed to beat back the powerful teacher unions. Education has always been a hot topic political issue, but as other hot topics take center stage, this coronavirus shutdown has proven to be a wake up call to families across America in regards to their state and local education system.