Betsy DeVos vis­its pub­lic schools

The Columbus Dispatch - - Nation&world -

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.

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