When you think about a charter school, what are you envisioning? Do you think that it is a place where only the most well off or gifted members of society are welcome? Or do you see it as an opportunity to help advance the opportunities for America’s most vulnerable and impressionable population? When the possibility of school choice first came into the limelight, there were many detractors. So many people had become used to sending their children where ever their Zip code dictated, in the schools were more than happy to take the children with no challenge to their authority. Parents were not briefed on the schools’ educational methods for their influences and teachers were simply hired to fill spaces.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos did not like this reality and she spent much of her early career advocating for change in her native state of Michigan. When most parents felt as though they had to accept the way things were, DeVos was running for the State Board of Education so that she could be an instrument of change. DeVos knows that there are opportunities available to her children that would not normally be available to others, but that is exactly why she works so hard. She explained to PhilanthropyRoundtable in a recent interview that it was about more than a student’s socioeconomic status or resources. She saw students who deserve the opportunities presented by charter schools, who worked extremely hard for better future. She also saw parents who were determined to give their children that future.
Nowadays, school choice has gained more acceptance. DeVos explains that while school choice has always been a major cornerstone of her platform, the need for reform of the current public-school system is still very important. With more and more students opting for charter schools and virtual schools, the public-school system has been challenged more than ever. She believes that these varying types of competition will force administrators to look at their own policies and search for ways to offer an innovative education. The sad fact is, that a lot of the schools located in the United States, charter school or public school, are not capable of competing with their international equivalents. There is a sore need for change across all systems. Parents and administrators need to become advocates for their children.
With that being said, DeVos feels as though the education system has made significant leeway since her appointment. There has been increased interest in charter schools, but there are also private schools that have garnered more interest as well. Her time serving these various institutions and as Secretary of Educ. has all been on a strict volunteer basis, she is not getting paid to care about these issues they are truly something that matters to her on a very deep level. DeVos truly believes that she will not have fulfilled her mission in this office until all parents can feel as though they have a choice in their own children’s educational setting or the materials that they are taught. In DeVos’s mind, all children have potential and deserve the right to grow that potential.
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