Betsy DeVos is your secretary of education. Rest assured, in the next four years, children are not going to become illiterate, the public school system is not going to self-destruct and public schools themselves are not going to disappear.
DeVos, a very successful businesswoman in her own right, as well as the former chair of the Republican Party of Michigan, knows governing is done best at the local and state level. For instance, Gov. Scott Walker’s educational reforms in Wisconsin have prepared our students well for success beyond the classroom.
Allowing states to govern education the way they best deem fit for their students allows for programs like Walker’s fully funded school choice program. School choice allows parents who are below 150 percent of the poverty line to choose a schooling option that is the best fit for their student.
As we all know, our parents usually know what’s best for us. A family’s income or zip code should not define a student’s education, according to DeVos. School choice gives students the opportunity to attend thriving schools that will prepare them for what comes after they graduate. It’s no wonder parents in Milwaukee have expressed such strong support for the program.
The main criticism of school choice is the money follows the students away from public institutions. But school choice programs ensure the money is going to benefit the student. While there is no evidence increased funding for public schools creates better results for students, Walker is still increasing funding per pupil across the board, so schools continue to see money flowing into the system.
Milwaukee is an example of a city where government funding has not improved the quality of education. Research conducted in 2013 and 2014 demonstrates the benefits of school choice across the country. In a strong majority of cases, there are positive impacts for everyone involved in the education process — private schools, public schools and the students. A Manhattan Institute study showed schools in Milwaukee affected by students leaving through the choice program actually encouraged those schools to improve. School choice is a win-win-win for students, parents and schools.
Common Core failed for the same reasons school choice thrives: Local school boards and state governments know what their students need better than the federal government. Common Core tried a top-down approach to education, and Walker and the Republican Legislature’s continued support for better standardized test programs and accountability standards challenge the notion we need to set a minimum for our students. Instead, they would rather we push every student to achieve everything they can.
Common Core assessments have shown the federally mandated curriculum has resulted in lower test scores nationwide. Common Core has trapped many states into adopting and keeping the curriculum program under the guise of increased federal funding.
For instance, in New York, parents and teachers have been outraged at the decrease in student performance since the Common Core’s implementation, and teachers’ associations have suggested attention be returned to the new curriculum and not the teachers.
Wisconsin never implemented Common Core, and state standards have been pushing students farther than Common Core ever would have. State accountability standards have also drawn focus to struggling schools, and all parents receive a letter detailing alternate options for their student to receive a quality education. Wisconsin is ensuring power is in the hands of the parents, not federal bureaucrats.
DeVos understands governors like Walker and school boards across the nation know what their students need better than the federal government. She will return power to where it belongs, and will make education great again in this country.