Betsy DeVos and Her 2015-16 School Choice Yearbook
On November 23, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Betsy DeVos for US secretary of education.
DeVos is zealous for school choice, and it seems that she is particularly fond of private school choice.
Below is her foreword for the choice organization, American Federation for Children (AFC) Growth Fund’s 2015-16 school choice yearbook. DeVos was the AFC Growth Fund chair:
As a result of the work of education advocates across the country and the education revolution we’ve created, our nation’s education system is changing. The antiquated, top-down model of education in this country that originated in the 1800s in order to “educate the masses” is beginning to transform to a student-centric model that respects every child’s unique learning style.This change has come about through victories and some setbacks, with moments of pause and moments of great change, but the momentum continues to shift in our favor. Educational choice is an essential part of the solution to our nation’s education challenges, including the greater issue of education inequality in America. The idea that no child should be defined or limited by his or her ZIP code or family’s income is deeply rooted in our movement’s commitment to social justice. Every parent should be free to choose the best educational environment for their children and low-income and minority children are too often the ones without choice. The only way to truly improve and innovate our nation’s system and help these students is through educational choice. The public is recognizing that true choice will break open our nation’s closed education system, encouraging innovation and education entrepreneurs to develop new ways for children to learn and reach their full potential.Today there are 50 private school choice programs in 25 states plus the District of Columbia. Last year alone, four states enacted their first school choice programs, and a total of eight new programs were signed into law. Additionally, half of all states passed at least one private school choice bill out of one chamber of their respective state legislatures.With an education system that’s 200 years old, and an entrenched establishment, change can be slow, but great progress continues to be made. There’s a monumental transformation underway as more and more parents rise up, speak out and demand access to educational choices for their children.Thank you for your steadfast support and resolve to educate America’s school children, and thank you for joining me in the education revolution!Betsy DeVos, Chairman
DeVos’ yearbook is 59 pages long. However, it falls short of critically appraising the programs it features. There are lots of stats (numbers of students enrolled in a variety of choice programs and in what states; total funds expended), and there are the criteria for a variety of choice programs.
There is even an accountability checklist but no discussion of the implication of the results, including the finding that only 10 out of 22 voucher programs (45 percent) are required to produce proof of financial viability, or that only 13 out of 22 (59 percent) are required to produce annual financial reports, or that only 9 out of 22 (41 percent) require public reporting of results.
There is no accountability checklist for charter schools. However, there is a declaration that presumes certain charter schools are models of innovation that are the road maps to the elysian fields of Higher Test Scores and College Readiness. An enlightening excerpt:
By almost all accounts, the U.S. education system is failing its students. On standardized tests, when compared with peers worldwide, American students continue to fall in the middle of the pack. …While proponents of the status quo may point to rising graduation rates, theBetsy DeVos and Her 2015-16 School Choice Yearbook | deutsch29: