Betsy DeVos To Push For School Vouchers? Skeptics Question If It Will Help Students Get Better Access To Education

By Claire Parker, Parent Herald January 16, 07:47 am

The new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, will be having her first Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday and it is believed that after that, the billionaire Republican activist might push for private school voucher programs as she argued in the past that she believes the public school system is not helping anyone. However, many are questioning if her decision to push for school vouchers will help students, especially those in high-poverty areas, to have access to a better education.

As per a 2013 study in Washington, D.C., Detroit Free Press revealed students who made use of federally funded vouchers to attend private schools were more likely to graduate from high school on time and had better reading scores. However, another finding in 2015 and 2016 in Louisiana, stated that students who used these vouchers to attend private schools did not perform well on state examinations. 

More on the research and their findings, Michael Petrilli, the president of Teducation reform advocacy organization Thomas B. Fordham Institute, said that in the early research since school vouchers were introduced, they found compelling evidence that children attending private schools were making progress. However, in the recent years, the studies had negative findings.

DeVos and other groups believe that vouchers and other forms of school choice give parents the power to choose. DeVos said in a letter to the editor last year that she believes parents are in the best position to determine what is in the best interest of their children. With that statement of DeVos, many believe that she, together with the Donald Trump administration, will dismantle public schools by not funding them and will rather benefit private schools.

Watertown Daily Times also reported that the Plattsburgh City School District Board of Education expressed their disapproval of DeVos. School voucher programs were also the main point of the board meeting, noting that these programs remove resources form already struggling school districts.

School vouchers were expected to be among the key issues in the Trump administration. Trump said that he will invest $20 billion toward school choice and expect states to bring in around $110 million to provide money for the 11 million school-age children living in poverty. 

As of today, there are 25 voucher programs in operation in the 14 states across the country, as well as the District of Columbia. Do you think school vouchers are better than the public school system? Sound off below.

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