DeVos Slams ‘Education Establishment,’ Touts School Choice

By Susan Jones | February 24, 2017 | 5:19am EST
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

( – The U.S. “education establishment has been blocking the doorway to reforms, fixes and improvements for a generation,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

And despite the $7 billion spent on school improvement grants during the Obama administration, the system is still failing too many children.

“How do we know that?” DeVos asked. “Our nation's test scores have flat lined, 1.3 million children drop out of school every year.”

DeVos said the Obama administration tested its model -- “and it failed miserably. “Now this is not an indictment of teachers,” she added. “Good teachers deserve to be honored and compensated accordingly.”

DeVos blamed the rigid “education establishment” and touted school choice as the solution. She also urged conservatives to “engage” and “be loud.”

So let me ask you, do you believe parents should be able to choose the best school for their child regardless of their ZIP Code or family income? Me too and so does President Trump.

We have a unique window of opportunity to make school choice a reality for millions of families. Both the president and I believe that providing an equal opportunity for a quality education is an imperative that all students deserve.

So, now let me ask you, how many of you are college students?

Well, the fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you are a threat to the university community, but the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.

As secretary, I don't think the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. should have more power over your decisions than you do. I took this job because I want to return power in education back to where it belongs, with parents, communities, and states.

We can do this, but only with your help. Defenders of the status quo will stop at nothing to protect their special interests and their special gig. So we need you to engage, to be loud, and to never stop fighting for what we believe. We need you to call, write, e-mail, tweet and snap every politician who thinks the status quo is OK and that they know better than you when it comes to your -- your education.

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