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U.S. Secretary Of Education Betsy DeVos Says “Teachers' Unions Are The Only Thing Standing In The Way” Of School Choice

Published Friday, January 25, 2019
by Alyson Klein/
U.S. Secretary Of Education Betsy DeVos Says “Teachers' Unions Are The Only Thing Standing In The Way” Of School Choice

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Wednesday (January 23rd) that the public wants school choice and that Teachers' Unions are the only real impediment, but some school choice proposals have met with resistance even from Congressional Republicans and conservative organizations, including the Heritage Foundation, where she made her remarks. 

"We know that most recent polling data has shown conclusively that people want to have choices," DeVos said in a "fireside chat" with Heritage's President, Kay Cole James during National School Choice Week. "They want choices for their kids.  Sixty-seven percent of the people in this country - two thirds - support school choice.  The only thing standing in the way is the Teachers' Unions that have a personal financial vested interest."

DeVos also called on Congress to renew the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was first created back in 2004, and is currently serving about 1,650 students in the District of Columbia, according to Heritage.

DeVos said she'd like to see that number increased and she said she'd like lawmakers to bring "clear and concise" stability to the program, which gives scholarships to low-income students to attend private schools, has often been a political football on Capitol Hill.

But voucher opponents were quick to cite studies that have shown students who receive vouchers through the program don't perform as well in math as their peers

"Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ignored the myriad problems with the Washington, D.C., private school voucher program during today's event with the Heritage Foundation," said the National Coalition for Public Education in a statement. "Repeated studies conducted by the Federal Government have clearly demonstrated that students in D.C.'s Voucher Program perform worse academically than their peers in public school.  And government investigations have repeatedly shown that the program suffers from serious accountability problems."

Teachers' Unions aren't the only organizations that have blocked some of the administration's school choice proposals.  Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike rejected DeVos' proposals for a $1 billion initiative to expand choice, including private school vouchers, as well as a smaller $250 million program.

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