Betsy DeVos slams Denver schools
U. S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this month praised Denver’s efforts to support school choice. That opinionchangedWednesday.
Speaking at the Brookings Institution, she called out Denver as an example of a district that appears to be choice- friendly but actually lacks sufficient options for families.
A new Brookings report gave the city the top score for school choice, citing the unified application process that allows families to consider charter and districtrun schools at the same time. But DeVos implied that without vouchers to pay for private schools ( somethingColorado’s state Supreme Court has twice ruled unconstitutional) and a sufficient supply of charter schools, Denver’s application process amounts to an optical illusion.
“The benefits of making choices accessible are canceled out when you don’t have a full menu of options,” she said, pointing to New Orleans as a better example of the choice system she’d like to see. “Choice without accessibility doesn’t matter. Just like accessibility without choices doesn’t matter. Neither scenario ultimately benefits students.”
The criticism comes just weeks after DeVos publicly praised Denver’s efforts to solve a thorny challenge complicating school choice across the country: transportation. In a speech to the Council of Great City Schools, a group of leaders and school board members of America’s large school districts, she praised the “Success Express” that shuttles students in a handful of neighborhoods to both charter and district schools. But transportation challenges continue to prevent families from taking advantage of the options that do exist.
Denver Public Schools’ Superintendent Tom Boasberg responded in a statement: “We respectfully disagree with Secretary DeVos. We do not support private school vouchers. We believe that public dollars should be used for public schools that are open to all kids, whether they are district- run or charter. A core principle in Denver and one of the main reasons we rank No. 1 nationally in school choice is thatwe ensure equitable systems of enrollment among districtrun and charter schools, where all schools play by the same enrollment rules and all schools are subject to the same rigorous accountability system. We do not support choice without accountability.”