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School Choice Controlled by States is the Way, Says DeVos

Ed Secretary cites Indiana example describing what a national, but state-controlled school choice program might look like

INDIANAPOLIS--You should be able to choose the kind of education you want your child to have, public, private, or parochial, and the government can foot the bill, was the message delivered by U.S. Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos in a speech at the American Federation for Children's National Policy Summit, Monday evening.

 
DeVos pointed out that a Democrat in Milwaukee was an early champion of school choice and that she believes education is a non-partisan issue, though DeVos and school voucher programs have traditionally been championed by Republicans.
 
DeVos cited an Indiana family from Ft. Wayne, as an example for what could be how the Trump administration's policy works. 
 
Rayna Rodriguez is a high school senior with five siblings whose parents are a firefighter and a nurse. DeVos said the family is using Indiana's choice scholarship to send four of the children to schools that "meet their needs".
 
"We have the opportunity to get Washington and the federal bureaucracy out of the way so parents can make the right choice for their kids," said DeVos.
 
Though she was not specific on what the new policy might entail, DeVos indicated that the money will follow the child, saying that she does not believe a one size fits all policy works.
 
"Rayna certainly has excelled. She's been able to participate in varsity sports and the performing arts department."
 
DeVos cited an example of a young man in Connecticut who attended an assigned high school which he described as "nothing more than adult daycare, a dangerous daycare", where the students controlled the school. 
 
She said students in that kind of situation would be much better served if they could attend a school that could serve their needs.
 
DeVos said she believes parents should be able to make the choice where to send their kids and that states should facilitate that, not D.C. bureaucracy.
 
"Those are decisions state should make. But no two states are the same and no two states approaches will be the same," she said.
 
She was also critical of states that might choose not to participate in providing school choice.
 
"That would be a terrible mistake."
 
Some of the opposition was set up not far from the downtown Westin hotel where the summit was taking place. 
 
An anti-voucher rally outside brought public school teachers and teacher union leaders from all over the state. The overall sentiment was that voucher programs take money away from public schools.
 
Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and former presidential candidate, was expected to speak at a noon Tuesday portion of the summit.
 
PHOTO: Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
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