Betsy DeVos visits public schools
but that finding common ground is crucial for the sake of students. Still, Weingarten stood somber-faced and DeVos wore a forced smile at a closing news conference.
While DeVos complimented teachers and students in the Van Wert schools, she said some 20 percent of local families have elected to send their children to other schools.
“It’s an opportunity that we should continue to offer because the goal is for every child to be in an education environment that’s best for them,” DeVos said. Choices should not be “dictated, mandated,” she added.
Weingarten questioned making investments in school-choice options, such as charter- and private-school programs, at the expense of traditional public schools. The Trump administration has proposed slashing key after-school programs mostly benefiting low-income families.
“There is no secret that we are fighting some of the budget cut,” Weingarten said, adding that eliminating such programs would harm the Van Wert community and others.
“But I think today’s visit was much more about proactive, positive, what happens when schools work together, when they engage in strategies that work for kids,” Weingarten added.
DeVos, a wealthy Republican operative and donor, has spent more than two decades advocating for charter and voucher programs, and she has made school choice a priority.
Next year’s presidential budget proposal calls for slashing funding for the Education Department by $9.2 billion. The administration also is proposing to allocate an additional $1.4 billion for school-choice programs and to eliminate two programs worth $3.6 billion that provide funding for teacher preparation and afterschool programs.