DeVos Calls for ‘Transformation’ of America’s ‘Closed and Antiquated Education System’

By Susan Jones | May 23, 2017 | 6:42am EDT
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke at a May 3 White House event for students who have used school choice vouchers in the District of Columbia. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

(CNSNews.com) – After 30 years of federal education "reform," too many students are still “falling through the cracks,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told a policy summit in Indiana on Monday.

“The time has expired for ‘reform,’” DeVos said. “We need a transformation – a transformation that will open up America's closed and antiquated education system.”

DeVos advocates school choice: “We must offer the widest number of quality options to every family and every child,” she said.

“Even the most expensive, state-of-the-art, high-performing school will not be the perfect fit for every single child. Parents know – or can figure out – what learning environment is best for their child, and we must give them the right to choose where that may be.”

DeVos noted that the effort to transform education will not be easy, and she called opponents “flat-earthers.”

“Defenders of our current system have regularly been resistant to any meaningful change. In resisting, these ‘flat-earthers’ have chilled creativity and stopped American kids from competing at the highest levels. Our current framework is a closed system that relies on one-size-fits-all solutions. We need an open system that envelopes choices and embraces the future.”

DeVos rejected federal control of education, and she said every state must provide choices that work for their students: “No two states are the same and no two states' approaches will be the same – and that's a good thing.”

She said it would be a “terrible mistake” for states to block education choice: It would mean that politicians in those states do not support equal opportunity for children: “They’ll be the ones who will have to explain to their constituent parents why they are denying their fundamental right to choose what type of education is best for their child.”

DeVos said tax dollars should follow students, not the other way around:

If we really want to help students, then we need to focus everything about education on individual students – funding, supporting and investing in them. Not in buildings; not in systems.

It shouldn't matter where a student learns so long as they are actually learning.

It shouldn't matter if learning takes place in a traditional public school, a Catholic school, a charter school, a non-sectarian private school, a Jewish school, a home school, a magnet school, an online school, any customized combination of those schools – or in an educational setting yet to be developed.

Education should measure actual mastery of subject matter, not how much time you sit in a seat or where that seat is.

Education should elevate the role of technology to fully enter the 21st century.

Education should reward outcomes, not inputs.

“We stand on the verge of the most significant opportunity we have ever had to drag American education out of the Stone Age and into the future,” she concluded.

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