With a historic tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary early this afternoon.
The narrow victory comes after a persistent effort by Democrats to derail her confirmation. But this isn’t just a victory for Republicans or Betsy DeVos, this is a victory for all families across the United States.
In October 2016, EdChoice released results from a national survey polling American families about educational options for their children. They found that just 28 percent of parents prefer to send their children to a public school, while a combined 69 percent of parents prefer alternative forms of education. Currently 83 percent of students attend a public school and 17 percent receive other forms of education, so it’s clear many parents want more educational options for their children.
It is well-known that Betsy DeVos is a champion of school choice, an effort she has dedicated much of her life to. School choice is a movement to provide all parents, including families in low income households or children with exceptional needs, with the means to give their children the education they deserve. No child deserves to have the quality of their education dictated by their zip code.
Education choice programs include vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and education savings accounts. All are commendable programs, but ESAs are newer to the education choice arena and are viewed by many as the most significant education policy reform. All of these programs allow parents, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it, to pay for alternative forms of education for their children.
The 2016 election showed that educational freedom is a priority for voters and their families. Of the 121 state-level candidates supported by the American Federation for Children, a pro-school choice organization chaired by DeVos until her selection was announced, 108 won their elections.
It is clear that the one-size-fits-all policies prescribed by the federal government have not worked to improve education in the United States. As evidenced by her support for school choice, DeVos recognizes that the best way to improve education is to give the power back to the states. Or better yet, give it to the parents.
There has never been a better time for states to expand school choice. Thanks to the election, 2017 is poised to be a banner year for efforts in states from coast to coast to empower parents and students with education savings accounts, vouchers and other programs that increase school choice.
Congratulations, Betsy DeVos. Please make education great again!