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Betsy DeVos Challenges the Education Establishment with Her ‘Rethink Schools’ Tour

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is taking a cue from the president by hitting the road for her “Rethink School” tour. The six-state tour will send DeVos into a variety of schools ranging from traditional public and charter schools to religious schools, homeschool cooperatives, and universities. It’s part of DeVos’ initiative to challenge what the education secretary has called an “all too familiar education system.”

"For far too many kids, this year's first day back to school looks and feels a lot like last year's first day back to school," DeVos said to a group of students and teachers during a stop at the Woods Learning Center in Casper, Wyoming, before adding, "And the year before that. And the generation before that. And the generation before that."

The tour kicked off earlier this week and will make stops in Indiana, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Wyoming, and Colorado. DeVos, a strong proponent of school choice, who recently had her agenda sidelined by the Senate, is expected to take aim at the current educational system and push a school choice agenda.

While in Wyoming, DeVos derided the established educational system, verbally painting a picture of “desks lined up in rows … the same schedule, the same routine.”

Surprisingly, during her stop in Casper, school vouchers were not directly addressed in her speech, instead opting for more of a pep rally us-versus-them mentality.

“Today, there is a whole industry of naysayers who vow to defend something they call the education system,” DeVos said. “What’s an education system? There’s no such thing. Are you guys systems? No, you’re individual students.”

It should be mentioned that when asked about school vouchers after her speech by the press, DeVos advocated for more school choices, saying “it’s up to the people of every state to decide how that happens.”

The Michigan billionaire heaped praise on the school district’s outside-the-box approach, citing it as an example of “rethinking school.” Students of the Natrona County School District are allowed to attend any school in the county, regardless of where they reside. Classrooms also incorporate students of different grade levels learning together and the Woods Learning Center is run by a group of teachers rather than a principal.

Other tour stops this week for the secretary of education include a stop at St. Stephens Indian High School in St. Stephens, Wyoming, and a visit to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

 

Article by Joel Stice, Education World Contributor

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